Review of the Week: 20th February-5th March 2003


A mild run winds from the western Mediterranean has kept temperatures above normal and, as would be expected, has delivered the first arrivals of early migrants.

A splash of the exotic was provided by an arrival of Hoopoes, with a number of records from the southwest and southern Ireland. At least two were on the Isles of Scilly, one in Cornwall, with several birds in County Cork and County Wexford. One reported in Cambridgeshire was more unusual and away from the main arrival area. Elsewhere, the first Northern Wheatear was reported from Lancashire on 26th February, with others in Devon, Staffordshire and the Channel Islands in the first few days of March. Surprisingly few Sand Martins have been reported so far - the first was one in Shropshire on 2nd, with two in Northamptonshire on the 3rd and another in Jersey. An early Osprey was noted over Cheshire on 3rd, plus typically early drake Garganey in East Sussex and Hampshire. A Serin in East Sussex since 16th February has been elusive, but was present to at least 5th March.

A number of Common Cranes have been reported in the last couple of weeks, most involving mobile flocks of up to 10 birds. A party of 5 in Gloucestershire proved popular as did 9 in Oxfordshire, though sightings in many other areas were all too brief fly-overs. A Great White Egret over Theale (Berkshire) will, if accepted, be a county first, but did not linger.

In Nottinghamshire a Richard's Pipit was present, providing the county with both 'wintering' Blyth's and Richard's Pipits in the first few months of the year, whilst in South Yorkshire the wintering Richard's Pipit continued to show well at Birley Edge, Sheffield. In Gloucestershire, the Lesser White-fronted Goose was last seen on 27th February. The long-staying rarities showed no sign of departing - just yet. In Norfolk, both the Pallid Harrier and Yellow-browed Warbler continued to show, as did the male Two-barred Crossbill on occasion in Buckinghamshire. A second dark-breasted Barn Owl was located, this time at Bowling Green Marsh (Devon). In Cork the Long-billed Dowitcher was again present after avoiding detection since the end of December, and the bird remained in Highland. On the Outer Hebrides the Pacific Golden Plover was still present on South Uist.

Written by: Russell Slack