Review of the Week: 2-7 April 2024


After an underwhelming weekday period, with cold, wet weather putting paid to migration across Britain and Ireland, the arrival of Storm Kathleen on Friday afternoon brought with it a prolonged southerly airflow that saw the floodgates open throughout the weekend. A noticeable arrival of migrants from Saturday saw large arrivals of a multitude of summer visitors, including Common Whitethroat, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Common Redstart, Ring Ouzel, Yellow Wagtail and Common Tern, as well as bumper early tallies of Grasshopper Warbler and Common Nightingale.

Headlining was an exceptional arrival of Hoopoes. Sussex bore the brunt of the fall, with an incredible eight birds logged over the weekend. Most amazing was two keeping close company at Hankham, East Sussex. A further five were along the south coast between Devon and Isle of Wight, with one arriving further north at Bardsey Island, Caernarfon. On 2nd, one was on Coll, Argyll.

Hoopoe, Hankham, East Sussex (Harvey Shelley).

Notably, a small arrival of three Blue-headed Wagtails at North Foreland, Kent, was joined by a possible Iberian Wagtail. A further five were elsewhere in Kent, with singles in Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire. Other scarce overshoots consisted of two Woodchat Shrikes (in Cornwall and Dorset), three European Serin (in Kent, Dorset and Lincolnshire) and four Alpine Swifts (two in Devon and singles in Avon and Hampshire).

The weekend also brought an arrival of Purple Herons, with two along the Cornish coast and a popular adult at Thornwick Bay, at East Yorkshire, for a few hours on 6th. An adult Black-crowned Night Heron resided in the heronry at North Foreland Wood near Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, until Friday and an apparent unringed White Stork was at Pulborough Brooks RSPB, West Sussex, on 7th.

Black-crowned Night Heron, Cley Marshes NWT, Norfolk (Oscar Lawrence).

On the rarity front, an adult male Dark-eyed Junco stole the headlines. It was found in a garden at Gillingham, Dorset, on 6th, with rumours of its presence in the area for around a week. The last multi-day twitchable example of this dashing Nearctic sparrow was in Devon in April 2019, making this suburban garden a popular spot on Sunday.

Dark-eyed Junco, Gillingham, Dorset (Matthew Mellor).

The moult of the Ayrshire Myrtle Warbler is now rapidly advanced, with just a few coverts and the odd feather elsewhere left until its completion. This meant it attracted a steady procession of admirers to its adopted Kilwinning garden over the weekend.

Myrtle Warbler, Kilwinning, Ayrshire, 5 April 2024 (Stevie Clarke).

Myrtle Warbler, Kilwinning, Ayrshire, 25 February 2024 (Andrew Jordan).

A surprise find saw a Pallas's Warbler at a Suffolk sewage works from 6th, with a Yellow-browed Warbler still in Dorset. There would be no sign of the Norfolk Rustic Bunting this week, but the Coues's Arctic Redpoll was reported again on 2nd. The Dorset Great Grey Shrike lingered until the weekend and a Little Bunting remained at Broadsands, Devon. Just two Shore Larks were reported – birds at High Bradfield, South Yorkshire, and Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland. A Richard's Pipit resided Welwick Saltmarsh, East Yorkshire, from 29th, with another still in Cumbria. Tory Island, Co Donegal, scooped up the honour of the year's first Corncrake on 3rd.

Great Grey Shrike, Morden Bog NNR, Dorset (David Camp).

Little Bunting, Broadsands, Devon (Nigel Cheetham).

Nottinghamshire's first-ever twitchable Black Kite caused a stir near Winthorpe, Nottinghamshire, on 3-4th, while an 'orange' harrier quartering over St Agnes, Scilly, on 5-6th conspired to be a juvenile Pallid Harrier, the seventh for the archipelago. A wintering example was again along the Carmarthen-Glamorgan border.

The second-winter Forster's Tern was again reliable around Poole Harbour, Dorset, for much of the week, though it will likely become more difficult to connect with amid throngs of returning Sandwich and Common Terns over the next few weeks. An adult Bonaparte's Gull was a welcome if brief find at Sandy Water Park, Carmarthen, on 7th. Three Kumlien's Gulls lasted another week (two in Cornwall and one in Highland) and the Double-crested Cormorant relocated a short distance to Colgagh Lough, Co Sligo, on 7th.

Forster's Tern, Arne RSPB, Dorset (Emma Parkes).

Lesser Scaup were at eight sites and the drake Bufflehead remained at Loch Leven, Perth and Kinross, throughout. New drake Ferruginous Ducks were in Somerset and Kent, with a pair still at Woolston Eyes, Cheshire.  Six American Wigeon included the notable discovery of a female at Bellanoch, Argyll, on 5-6th; further totals included 12 Green-winged Teal, 25 Ring-necked Ducks, seven Smew and nine Surf Scoter. Garganey were at 38 sites across England and Wales.

Lesser Scaup, Lisvane Reservoir, Glamorgan (Chris Teague).

Bufflehead, Loch Leven NNR, Perth & Kinross (Mark Leitch).

Three Red-breasted Geese included two still in Norfolk. Aberdeenshire hosted a white-morph Snow Goose and a Black Brant continued on the East Yorkshire coast. At least seven White-billed Divers were still along the Aberdeenshire-Moray border and Inishmore, Co Galway, retained its Pied-billed Grebe for another week.

An adult American Golden Plover at Sker Point from 2-5th was a long-awaited Glamorgan first. In Lincolnshire, the wintering Lesser Yellowlegs at Frampton Marsh RSPB chalked up over 200 days at the site. Others persisted in East Yorkshire and Co Louth, while four Long-billed Dowitchers also lingered. A brief Eurasian Dotterel was at Cadair Idris, Meirionnydd.

American Golden Plover (centre) with European Golden Plovers, Sker Point, Glamorgan (Rhoslyn Williams).


Western Palearctic

A couple of North African vagrants were found in Gibraltar, with a House Bunting on 5th and a female African Chaffinch on 6th. Alicante, Spain, boasted a first-winter Franklin's Gull, meanwhile, with an American Herring Gull still in Asturias.

Vestbygd, Norway, hosted a Sandhill Crane from 1st. Sightings elsewhere comprised a Sociable Lapwing in Germany, Moustached Warbler in Poland and the first Pallid Swift for Austria. The American Robin was again at Keflavík, Iceland.

Egypt's first Hooded Vulture overflew Gabal el Zayt on 1st and both the Grasshopper Buzzard and Abyssinian Roller lingered in Mauritania. An African Desert Warbler was on Linosa, Italy.


Written by: Sam Viles