High pressure from midweek onwards brought sunshine and temperatures into the mid-teens for much of Britain and Ireland, alongside the first noticeable arrivals of several spring overshoots.
Hoopoes were evident in extreme south-west England, with 10 Cornish sites boasting reports, alongside Scilly birds on St Mary's and Bryher. Away from here, birds reached Portland, Dorset, both Skomer and Skokholm, Pembrokeshire, and Sherkin Island, Co Cork (a wintering individual also held on at Duxford, Cambridgeshire). Five early Common Cuckoos were also reported, with one photographed on St Mary's, Scilly, on 23rd, followed by others in Cornwall, Argyll (two), and Co Cork.
Hoopoe, Coverack, Cornwall (Joe Jones).
Bringing up the rear were a number of European Serin, including an impressive four – two males and two females – at Coverack, Cornwall, and singletons, all males, at Land's End, Cornwall, South Foreland, Kent, and St Catherine's Point, Isle of Wight.
European Serin, Coverack, Cornwall (Joe Jones).
A shock Red-flanked Bluetail on Great Saltee, Co Wexford, on 26-27th was just the seventh for Ireland and the first for the county. Another was at an undisclosed West Norfolk site on 26th. A probable Red-rumped Swallow over Finglas, Co Dublin, on 24th was too brief to be confirmed.
Red-flanked Bluetail, Saltee Islands, Wexford (Brian McCloskey).
A possible male Siberian/Stejneger's Stonechat was at Rhossili Bay, Glamorgan, from 25th. Lingering was at least two Eurasian Penduline Tits at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, and a Hume's Leaf Warbler at St Margaret's at Cliffe, Kent. Singing Cetti's Warblers in Cos Cork and Wexford are thought to be the sixth and seventh Irish records; a probable Siberian Lesser Whitethroat was in gardens at Chirk, Clwyd.
Eurasian Penduline Tit, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset & Bristol (Andrew Steele).
Two Little Buntings were a surprise find in a stubble field at Kelling Heath, Norfolk, from 21st, while Shore Larks were at seven sites, including three different spots in Cleveland. Three Great Grey Shrike lingered into the week – at Backwater Reservoir, Angus (until 22nd), Comberton, Cambridgeshire, and Cropton Forest, North Yorkshire. On 27th, a new Dusky Warbler was at Stiffkey Fen, Norfolk; another lingered at Walthamstow Marsh, London.
Little Bunting, Kelling Heath, Norfolk (Peter Simpson).
The Belted Kingfisher proved reliable along the River Darwen at Roach Bridge, Lancashire, until the week's end, although the Double-crested Cormorant at Doon Lough, Co Leitrim, was only reported on two occasions.
Belted Kingfisher, Samlesbury, Lancashire (Craig Smith).
The young Northern Harrier was logged at Lough Boora Parklands, Co Offaly, midweek, with the male Snowy Owl still on the Cairngorm Plateau, Moray & Nairn, in recent days. A Dark-breasted Barn Owl reported at Heigham Holmes, Norfolk, late on 26th would likely be popular if confirmed.
Still at Portlethen, Aberdeenshire, until 25th, the Ross's Goose then flew north over Lieurary, Caithness, on 27th. Onwards to greener pastures? Red-breasted Geese remained on Islay, Argyll (until 22nd), and at Cley Marshes NWT, Norfolk, with Todd's Canada Geese at Ribble Marshes, Lancashire, and Stewarton and Tiree, Argyll. Two Richardson's Cackling Geese were back at Aird an Runair, N Uist, Outer Hebrides, on 23rd, with one still at Ballintemple, Co Sligo.
Ross's Goose (third from right), Westfield, Caithness (Rob Hughes).
A Grey-bellied Brant was still at Kilbarrack, Co Dublin, with Black Brant lingering in Norfolk, Essex, East Yorkshire and Dorset. Snow Geese, meanwhile, were at four sites – Malacleit, North Uist, Outer Hebrides, Loch Spynie, Moray (three), Slimbridge WWT, Gloucestershire (three), and Ribble Marshes, Lancashire – and a Taiga Bean Goose was with Pink-footed Geese at Errol, Perth & Kinross, on 21st. Context is everything – Shetland hosted a rare Egyptian Goose at Sandwick, Mainland, on 27th
Snow Geese, Slimbridge WWT, Gloucestershire (Chris Teague).
In East Yorkshire, the Baikal Teal held on at Swine Moor, East Yorkshire, with the American Black Duck still at Cross Lough, Mullet, Co Mayo, too. Green-winged Teal were at nine sites, with new finds at Eldernell, Cambridgeshire, and Wilstone Reservoir, Hertfordshire, particularly sought after. The bumper Garganey influx continued, with no fewer than 129 reports posted onto BirdGuides sightings pages during the week reaching as far north as Loch Calder, Caithness.
Green-winged Teal, Wilstone Reservoir, Hertfordshire (Mark Rayment).
Lesser Scaup were reported from Castle Loch, Dumfries & Galloway, Skinflats Lagoons, Forth (two), Coatbridge, Clyde (two), Lewis, Outer Hebrides, and Oxford Island, Co Armagh. New Ring-necked Duck included a healthy four at Tamur Lough, Co Donegal, although the flock of six at Kenfig Hill, Glamorgan, dwindled to five by the week's end. Twenty-two sites in total held the species – this winter's record-breaking influx shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.
Lesser Scaup, Skinflats Lagoons, Forth (John Nadin).
Ring-necked Duck, Baston & Langtoft Pits, Lincolnshire (Josh Jones).
An adult drake Northern Eider showed well at Seahouses, Northumberland, on 20th, with King Eider remaining at Loch Fleet, Highland, and Musselburgh, Lothian. Musselburgh also continued to host a White-winged Scoter and three Surf Scoter, with another 'Surfie' still off Roseisle, Moray & Nairn. Northumberland's Black Scoter was again off Cocklawburn Beach midweek.
King Eider (centre), Loch Fleet, Highland (Dean Macaskill).
Northern Scotland held a monopoly on White-billed Diver reports – birds were at Portsoy, Aberdeenshire (eight); Cullen (seven) and Burghead (two), Moray; North Ronaldsay, Orkney; and Fair Isle, Shetland.
A second-winter Bonaparte's Gull at Chichester GPs, West Sussex, from 22nd transpired to be the individual present at Cardiff Bay, Glamorgan, between 29 January and 13 March. Norfolk's first since 2007 – an adult – was at Cantley Beet Factory, Norfolk, on 26th just long enough for keen locals within striking distance to catch a glimpse.
Bonaparte's Gull, Chichester GPs, West Sussex (Mark Leitch).
In Co Galway, the Forster's Tern was again at Kinvarra on 21st and the first-winter Ross's Gull made a brief reappearance at Mutton Island on 24th. Further afield, Ring-billed Gulls were at nine sites, including new birds at Hough, Tiree, Argyll, Blennerville, Co Kerry (two), Cuskinny Marsh, Co Cork, and Bann Estuary, Co Londonderry. Seven Kumlien's Gulls in Cornwall, Outer Hebrides, Co Antrim and Co Kerry included five new birds.
Ring-billed Gull, Cork City, Cork (Harry Hussey).
A new Lesser Yellowlegs was also reported from Cantley Beet Factory recently, with others continuing at Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk, and Tacumshin, Co Wexford. The White-tailed Lapwing at Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire, also remained in place.
White-tailed Lapwing, Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire (Robin Johnson).
A remarkably early Temminck's Stint was at Cliffe Pools RSPB, Kent, on 26-27th; perhaps it has been wintering nearby and only just been detected? Elsewhere, a Eurasian Stone-curlew was sound-recorded over St Albans, Hertfordshire, on 22nd, with another heard over Ventnor, Isle of Wight, the following day.
The unringed White Stork persisted at Worth Marsh, Kent, with birds (the vast majority likely originating from Knepp) widespread across central and southern England – reports were received as far north as Cumbria. A single Welsh sighting, meanwhile, saw one drift over Queensferry, Clwyd.
White Stork, Rockhampton, The Wheel, Gloucestershire (Gareth Williams).
This week's Glossy Ibis sighting map made for interesting viewing: the species was widely distributed throughout Ireland and across southern England and Wales, with two isolated reports in the far north of Scotland – at Reay, Caithness, and Westray, Orkney. New birds were at 17 sites.
Glossy Ibis, Stanpit Marsh, Dorset (Jeremy Mcclements).
A Sperm Whale blogged around in South Whiteness Voe, Shetland, throughout the week.
Sperm Whale, Nesbister, Mainland, Shetland (Andrew Harrop).
Satellite tracking has vastly improved our knowledge of bird movements and migration, and nowhere more so than with some of our biggest raptors. Still a major rarity in The Netherlands, no fewer than three immature Bonelli's Eagles were recorded this week, with two of those satellite-tagged in France. Germany also got in on the action, with one over Wilsum, Lower Saxony, on 24th. Luxembourg's first Eastern Imperial Eagle, meanwhile, roosted near Clervaux overnight on 24-25th, before continuing south-west into France – it was juvenile female 'Artemisia' satellite-tagged in Austria last year.
Intense southerlies stretching out of North Africa brought a wealth of Maghreb goodies to the Spanish coastline: a smart Cream-coloured Courser at Cabo de Gata, Andalucia, from 22-25th and a Moroccan Wagtail at Algeciras on 25th were topped by no fewer than two Moussier's Redstart in the L'Albufera de València area – males on 25th and 27th – with a Lesser Yellowlegs at the same site.
Surprisingly, all of this was blown out of the water on 26th by news of a Black-and-white Warbler – Spain's second – wintering near Sant Joan de Mediona, Catalonia, having been present since February at least. Elsewhere, a Brown Booby at Irún, Basque Country, from 22nd proved well-received, with a Laughing Gull on Formentera, Balearic Islands, and a long-staying American Herring Gull still at Muxía.
Moussier's Redstart, L'Albufera de València, Valencia (Yanina Maggiotto).
In Fennoscandia, Sweden hosted a male Pine Bunting at Nordanås from 23rd and a Steppe Eagle overflew both Törringe and Toarp on 27th, with the popular Siberian Rubythroat still at Vargön. A returning Richardson's Cackling Goose was back at Pori, Finland, on 22nd.
Denmark's Ross's Goose was near Hørsfelt during the week. Otherwise, a hefty roll call included the Sandflugtplantage Stejneger's Scoter and Selsø Sø White-headed Duck, while no fewer than two Black Scoter were noted – off Røsnæs and Blåvands Huk. The White-winged Scoter was still at Keflavík, Iceland.
An adult Bonaparte's Gull at Westkapelle on 24th was just The Netherlands sixth. The country's Greater Spotted Eagle resurfaced over Westerbroek on 21st, while the Baikal Teal, Western Swamphen and Pygmy Cormorant all lingered. The drake Falcated Duck was still at Stuivekenskerke, Belgium, as was the meena Oriental Turtle Dove at Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. A first-winter Franklin's Gull was again at Taggia, Italy.
In the Channel Islands, an Alpine Swift scythed over Pleinmont, Guernsey, on 26th.