Review of the Week: 1st-7th April 2004

Red-rumped Swallow: Hay-a-Park GPs, Yorks. (Photo: Darren Starkey) Red-rumped Swallow: Hay-a-Park GPs, Yorks. (Photo: Barry Byatt)

A cool week with westerly/northwesterly winds ensured that spring is progressing slowly. There were good numbers of summer migrants in some areas and none in others, together with a scattering of typical spring rarities. The range of species reported so far is broad, with many early reports of normally late migrants.

Hoopoe: T'yn-n-groes, Conwy. (Photo: Steve Round) Hoopoe: T'yn-n-groes, Conwy. (Photo: Steve Round)

Hoopoe: Sharkham Point, Devon. (Photo:Bob Buckler) Little Bunting: Newborough Warren, Anglesey. (Photo: Julie Rogers)

Continuing the run of recent records in the country, another Alpine Swift was seen, this time over Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) on Sunday 4th. In Yorkshire the exceptionally long-staying bird remains at Scarborough, giving stunning views down to a matter of feet on occasions. Two Red-rumped Swallows were at Hay-a-Park GPs (Yorks) on Wednesday 7th and another was at Cosmeston Lakes (Glamorgan) on Monday 5th. At least 9 Hoopoes were reported during the week: Whitehill (Pembrokeshire) on Thursday 1st; Sharkham Point (Devon) Friday 2nd-Tuesday 6th; Sandown (Isle of Wight) from Saturday 3rd-Sunday 4th; St. Mary's (Scilly) from Saturday 3rd-Sunday 4th; Dungeness (Kent) on Saturday 3rd, with perhaps the same at nearby Lydd on Monday 5th; Meols (Cheshire) from Sunday 4th-Wednesday 7th; Ventnor (Isle of Wight) on Sunday 4th; T'yn-n-groes (Conwy) from Tuesday 6th-Wednesday 7th and; Dungarven (Co. Waterford) on Tuesday 6th. Six Serins 'trilled' their way over southern England. In Dorset singles were at Durlston CP on Friday 2nd, Brownsea Island on Sunday 4th and Portland on Monday 5th. Two were on Tresco (Scilly) on Sunday 4th and another over Dungeness on Monday 5th. A female Bluethroat was at Church Norton (W. Sussex) from Sunday 4th-Monday 5th, the early date perhaps pointing towards a white-spotted bird. Two 'new' Yellow-browed Warblers were noted, one at Burton (Dorset) on Friday 2nd and another at Bow Brickhill (Bucks) from Sunday 4th onwards; in addition, singles remained un Kent, Devon and Co. Cork. There were at least 13 Great Grey Shrikes during the week, including birds at coastal sites, and dwindling numbers of Waxwings continued to provide a touch of the exotic, the largest group comprising 43 birds in Macclesfield (Cheshire) on Sunday 4th.

Bluethroat: Church Norton, W. Sussex. (Photo: Paul Hackett) Bluethroat: Church Norton, W. Sussex. (Photo: Pete Ryder)

Great Grey Shrike: Westleton Heath, Suffolk. (Photo: Kit Day) Great Grey Shrike: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbys. (Photo: Brain Chafer)

Long-billed Dowitcher: Bothal Pond, Northumberland. (Photo: John Malloy) Long-billed Dowitcher: Bothal Pond, Northumberland. (Photo: John Malloy)

A Long-billed Dowitcher was a good spring find at Bothal Pond (Northumberland) on Tuesday 6th. A male Kentish Plover at Hickling Broad (Norfolk) on Thursday 1st was relatively early, though not the earliest ever in the county. A Gull-billed Tern was reported from Sennen Cove (Cornwall) on Sunday 4th, a Gyr Falcon reported from Tomatin (Highland) and a White-tailed Eagle was at Forsinard RSPB (Highland) on Sunday 4th. On the Outer Hebrides the male Snowy Owl remained at South Ford on South Uist throughout the week and an adult Bonaparte's Gull did likewise at Peninerine on the same island. Strong winds over the weekend delivered small numbers of skuas to the west coast with both Pomarine Skuas and Arctic Skuas observed at several sites.

White-headed Duck: Saltholme Pools, Cleveland. Larger than the similar drake Ruddy Duck, with a swollen bill, different head pattern and body colour – plus the dark the undertail coverts. (Photo: Mike Watson) Tundra Bean Goose: Saltcoates, Cumbria. Note the narrow white border to the tail and darker upperparts compared to the Pink-foot (right) – plus the orange legs! (Photo: Tristan Reid)

White Stork: Kilrenny, Fife. Wide-ranging 'feral' birds confuse the picture markedly at this time of year – in the absence of an obvious influx it is impossible to be sure of the origin of many reports. (Photo: A. Shuttleworth) Spoonbill: Titchfield Haven, Hants. Individuals are often highly mobile at this time of year, as illustrated by several this week. (Photo: Pete Ryder)

In Somerset the Dusky Warbler was again present at Portbury from Sunday 4th onwards; it was last reported from the site on 10th March. The wintering Dusky Warbler remains at Paignton (Devon), as do the Hume's Warbler at Fairlop Waters CP (London), Pallas's Warbler at Dover (Kent) and Little Bunting at Newborough Warren (Anglesey). The 1st-winter Franklin's Gull is still present in Dorset, as is the Harlequin Duck on Lewis, Redhead on Barra and American Coots on South Uist and Shetland. In Galway the Forster's Tern continues to be seen as does the American Herring Gull at Nimmo's Pier.

Black-necked Grebe: Pennington Flash, Gtr Manchester. This rare breeding species presents a fine sight in breeding dress. (Photo: Sue Tranter) Garganey: Welland Bank Pits, Lincs. For such a striking bird, males can be surprisingly elusive! (Photo: Will Bowell)

'Blue-headed Wagtail': Abberton Reservoir, Essex. 'Blue-headed' birds can be variable, with intergrades presenting an annual problem for assigning certain individuals. (Photo: Sean Nixon) Short-eared Owl: Burton Marsh, Cheshire. From below the black wing tip and well barred tail immediately eliminate Long-eared Owl. (Photo: Steve Round)

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: Marbury CP, Cheshire. The early spring period offers the best chance for locating this elusive woodpecker. (Photo: Steve Round)
Written by: Russell Slack