Review of the Week: 15th-21st April 2004


It was the most interesting period of the spring so far with a couple of cracking rarities and a number of scarce migrants.

Alpine Accentor: Overstrand, Norfolk. (Photo: Major Gilbert)

An Alpine Accentor was at Overstrand (Norfolk) on Tuesday 20th. Found late in the day the lengthening daylight hours allowed those within striking distance to catch up with the bird that evening - unfortunately there was no further sign the following day. With just 14 accepted records since 1958 this is still an exceptionally rare species in Britain. Obliging spring birds in 1990, 2000 and 2002, plus an autumn bird in 1994, have ensured that those with an interest in listing have had several opportunities to see this delightful species in recent times. This record echoes the first for the county, a bird on the cliff-face near Sheringham between 30th April and 4th May 1978.

Iberian Chiffchaff: Woodhorn, Northumberland. (Photo: John Malloy) Iberian Chiffchaff: Woodhorn, Northumberland. (Photo: Colin Bradshaw)

Iberian Chiffchaffs are becoming almost expected overshoots with half a dozen well-watched birds in southern England during the past 5 years. One at Woodhorn (Northumberland) from Sunday 18th-Monday 19th broke the mould in terms of location, but its stay was unfortunately brief. A bird in Lancashire masqueraded as this species from Monday 19th onwards but, as has been the case before, opinion now points towards this being a Chiffchaff with a slightly unusual song.

Subalpine Warbler: St. Mary's, Scilly. (Photo: Martin Goodey) Subalpine Warbler: Sennen, Cornwall. (Photo: John Chapman)

Serin: Unst, Shetland. (Photo: Mike Pennington) Woodchat Shrike: Chambers Wall, Kent. (Photo: Pete Merchant)

An arrival of Subalpine Warblers included one on St. Mary's (Scilly) from Friday 16th onwards, with one at Sennen (Cornwall) from 16th onwards, 2 there on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th, with at least one still present on 21st and one at Land's End (Cornwall) from 19th onwards. Alpine Swifts were represented by singles at Thorpeness (Suffolk) on Saturday 17th, with one at Beeston Regis/Sheringham on Sunday 18th and Wednesday 21st; in North Yorkshire the long-staying bird, which has provided many with their first chance of the species in Britain, was last seen on Thursday 15th (it was first seen on 14th March). A Woodchat Shrike was at Chambers Wall (Kent) from Monday 19th onwards with another located at Nanquidno (Cornwall), also from 19th onwards. An Ortolan Bunting was at Gibraltar Point (Lincs) on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th, and six Serins included one on Unst (Shetland) which was only the 7th for the islands. There were at least 23 Hoopoes reported during the week and Wrynecks were at Westleton Heath (Suffolk) on Sunday 18th and Caythorne (Lincs) on Monday 19th. Red-rumped Swallows included: one at Welton Water (E. Yorks) on Friday 16th; two at Spurn (E. Yorks) on Saturday 17th, with perhaps one of these seen at Gibraltar Point later in the day; one at Low Barns (Durham) on Saturday 17th; one at Marton Mere (Lancs) from Sunday 18th-Monday 19th; one at Abberton Reservoir (Essex) on Sunday 18th and; one at Bowling Green Marsh (Devon) on Wednesday 21st. Yellow-browed Warblers continue to be found, with east coast birds at Filey on Friday 16th and Sunday 18th-19th and Gibraltar Point on Tuesday 20th, and another was in the Itchen Valley (Hants) on Friday 16th. In addition, wintering birds were still in Kent and Devon. Just a handful of Great Grey Shrikes were reported and Waxwings were represented by flocks in Suffolk, South Yorkshire and Clyde, the maximum 24 in Glasgow on Sunday 18th. A Northern Long-tailed Tit was at Lee Valley CP (Essex) from Saturday 17th onwards. On Guernsey a Corn Bunting at La Jaonneuse was the first for the island since 1976.

Hoopoe: Sharkham Point, Devon. (Photo: Mike Lockyear)

White-billed Diver: Lewis, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: Martin Scott) Bonaparte's Gull: Llanrhystud, Ceredigion. (Photo: Marc Hughes)

An excellent count of up to 6 White-billed Divers were noted off Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on Thursday 15th, with at least four still there on 18th and two on 21st. These are further evidence of the regular stop-over of birds in these waters (following a number of birds there last spring). The good run of Bonaparte's Gulls continues, with an adult in Cardiff Bay (Glamorgan) on Wedneday 21st, a 1st-winter at Marazion (Cornwall) on Friday 16th and the long-stayer still on South Uist (Outer Hebrides). A Night Heron flew over Portishead (Somerset) on Thursday 15th and a Great White Egret was at Arne (Dorset) the same day. A Pectoral Sandpiper was at Seaton Common (Cleveland) from Monday 19th-Tuesday 20th and the first Dotterel of the spring were 3 at Blackrod Bay (Co. Mayo) on Friday 16th and 2 at Walney Island (Cumbria) on Sunday 18th. Four Black Kites were reported, but none lingered. Skua movement has been noted off a number of the usual watchpoints. Nine Pomarine Skuas passed Dungeness (Kent) on 15th, with 67 Bonxies passed there on 18th and 44 Arctic Skuas on 21st, with 49 of the latter passing Burnham-on-Sea on 18th.

White Stork: Horbury Wyke, W. Yorks. (Photo: Darren AP Ward)

The pair of White Storks from last week in West Yorkshire have been present throughout the week at Horbury Wyke, with both birds performing well and nest-building (much to the delight of the media!). The origins of these birds have been traced by the BTO ringing unit (www.bto.org). The metal-ringed bird has a French ring P6222. It was found in poor condition in Calais on 18th September 2002 and taken into care. It was then ringed and released at Villeneuve d'Ascq (near Lille in northern France) on 25th February 2003. The second bird (ringed M5638 with blue Darvic 027) was ringed as a free-flying adult male at an animal park at Mechelen, Belgium in April 2002. When initially ringed, it was wearing a blue 'chicken ring' so was presumed to be an escaped bird.

Bufflehead: Pugney's CP, W. Yorks. (Photo: Darren AP Ward)

The Bufflehead has continued to delight visitors to Pugney's CP (W. Yorks) through the week. On the Outer Hebrides the Harlequin Duck remains on Lewis as does the Redhead on Barra. The Long-billed Dowitcher continues to be seen intermittently at Bothal Pond (Northumberland) but is elusive. Both of the long-staying Dusky Warblers remain in residence in Devon and Somerset, as does the Hume's Warbler in London and Rose-coloured Starling in Cornwall.

Rose-coloured Starling: Penzance, Cornwall. (Photo: Kit Day)

Black-necked Grebe: Pugney's CP, W. Yorks. (Photo: Darren AP Ward) Red-necked Grebe: Nostell Priory, W. Yorks. (Photo: Darren Starkey)
Written by: Russell Slack