Review of the Week: 22-28 April 2024


It was an decent week for most inland birders, with a large-scale movement of terns, plus lesser numbers of waders. Arctic Terns were moving en masse, with several triple-figure counts from inland sites, including more than 240 though North Duffield Carrs, North Yorkshire, and 234 through Southfield Reservoir, East Yorkshire, on 22nd, as well as in excess of 220 at Staines Reservoirs, London, on 23rd, and at least 100 through Little Marlow GPs, Buckinghamshire, on 27th.

Arctic Tern (left) and Common Tern (right), Orgreave Lagoons, South Yorkshire (Tom Hines).

Conditions didn't quite align for a big Black Tern day, but 25 sites scored birds, mostly over the weekend. Common Terns were also on the move, peaking with a mighty 16,332 past Dungeness NNR, Kent, on 27th. Bar-tailed Godwit, Greenshank and Whimbrel passed through too, though best wader 'find' goes to an inland Purple Sandpiper at Cowbit, Lincolnshire, on 28th.

Purple Sandpiper, Cowbit, Lincolnshire (Josh Jones).

Garganey pair (front) and Whimbrel (back), Coombe Hill Meadows, Gloucestershire (Daniel Gornall).

Interestingly, conditions also triggered a decent northbound passage of Greater Scaup along the North Sea coast. Whitburn Coastal Park, Durham, came out on top with 123 in little over three hours on 22nd. Another pulse came on 28th, with 108 past Newbiggin, Northumberland, during the morning. You have to go back to February 1991 on Trektellen to find a comparable movement.

Find of the week goes to a brief female Little Crake at Papercourt Meadows, Surrey, on 22nd. Amazingly, this is the first county record since 1860! Sadly, the bird wasn't seen after the initial sighting but should at least provide some encouragement to any patchers hoping for an unexpected goodie this spring.

Little Crake, Papercourt Water Meadows, Surrey (Ed Sames).

Facebook produced yet another great rarity, with a single photograph depicting a Dark-eyed Junco in a private garden posted late on 23rd. Thankfully, the homeowner was forthcoming with information, stating the bird had been present in Hartlepool since 22nd and subsequently allowing access for anyone wishing to twitch this Co Durham first. It is the second for Cleveland after one at Guisborough, North Yorkshire, in June 2017. Thankfully the bird hung around until 27th, giving ample time for any would-be admirers to pay a visit – though a small step ladder was advised for viewing over the garden fence.

Dark-eyed Junco, Hartlepool, Cleveland (Sam Viles).

Dark-eyed Junco, Hartlepool, Cleveland (Carolyn Farry).

A male Eastern Subalpine Warbler was a nice find at Holme NOA, Norfolk, on 28th. The singing Savi's Warbler continued at North Cave Wetlands YWT, East Yorkshire, throughout the week. Three Iberian Chiffchaffs were reported, though none were confirmed. This included one in Norfolk and one in Glamorgan, with another lingering in Hampshire over the weekend. An apparent male Iberian Wagtail was photographed at Thrybergh CP, South Yorkshire, on 28th. Five Richard's Pipits was a decent showing – half of which were new.

Gloucestershire's adult male White-spotted Bluethroat was back at Slimbridge WWT for its fourth year from 25th. A lone European Bee-eater was at Malltraeth, Anglesey, on 24th. Other overshoots included seven Wrynecks and six Hoopoes, including one of the latter at Girdle Ness, Aberdeenshire, on 28th. Three European Serins made the news page between 24-25th, most notably one at Carr Vale NR, Derbyshire. A singing Golden Oriole was a notable Lancashire find at Marton Mere on 23rd, though proved to be a brief visitor. Several remained on St Mary's, Scilly.

A late Great Grey Shrike was at Northdale, Unst, on 24-25th. Two new Woodchat Shrikes joined the handful already present, most notably a female at Anderby Creek, Lincolnshire, from 25th. A twitchable Red-rumped Swallow was at Worth Marsh RSPB, Kent, between 23-26th and another overflew Formby, Lancashire, on 24th.

Woodchat Shrike, Anderby Creek, Lincolnshire (James Siddle).

Typically, a handful of Black Kite reports were received, three of which were confirmed. One toured the Isles of Scilly between 23rd and 25th, while one photographed over Lady's Island Lake, Co Wexford, on 23rd related to the bird photographed in Co Waterford on 16th. The third was one at South Dell, Lewis, on the evening of 26th, although there was no further sign the following day.  

Black Kite, South Dell, Lewis, Outer Hebrides (Jack Morris).

Ireland welcomed yet another Pallid Harrier record, with a juvenile photographed at East Coast NR, Co Wicklow, on 23rd. Another juvenile was at Durness, Highland, the same day, and with photo analysis is suspected to be the same bird that flew through at North Ronaldsay, Orkney, on 27th. There was a scattering of Montagu's Harrier records, with an adult female touring the Isles of Scilly from 22nd, a male at Pig Bush, Hampshire, on 23rd and a ringtail reported at Pendeen, Cornwall, on 24th. The lingering juvenile was reported again at Knockadoon Head, Co Cork, on 22nd.

It was a quieter week for Black-crowned Night Heron records, although one in inland Co Mayo on 24th was a great find. Another was at Lower Tamar Lake, Devon, on 28th. Purple Herons were reported at 24 sites during the week, including one as far north as Loch of Strathbeg RSPB, Aberdeenshire, and two more were reported in Ireland. It feels like now is as good a time as any to check your local wetlands for this smart heron.

Hampshire's showy adult Marsh Sandpiper continued to prove popular until a final report on 24th. A female Black-winged Stilt was a notable find in Buckinghamshire on 27th – a good tick for anyone participating in the county bird race that weekend – after putting in a brief appearance in Hampshire the previous day. The first-summer female continued to put on a show at Frampton Marsh RSPB.

Marsh Sandpiper, Normandy Marsh, Hampshire (Jeremy Mcclements).

Black-winged Stilt, Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire (Henry Wyn-Jones).

Both long-staying Long-billed Dowitchers remained in situ. A Kentish Plover was off Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, on 22nd, and despite a regular wintering female this bird was thought to be a male, though remained distant. Pectoral Sandpipers were discovered in Suffolk on 26th and Argyll on 28th. Four migrant Eurasian Dotterel were reported. Extralimital Eurasian Stone-curlews were at St Agnes, Scilly, from 23-27th and Anderby Creek, Lincolnshire, on 24th. The second Temminck's Stint of the spring was at Scotney GP, East Sussex, on 26th.

Long-billed Dowitcher, Cley Marshes NWT, Norfolk (Ted Smith).

A new adult Bonaparte's Gull was at Wexford on 25th, while Dorset's first-winter lingered at Swineham until 26th. A second-winter Ring-billed Gull was new at Blennerville, Co Kerry, on 25th while the summering adult continued to be reported at Loch Turret Reservoir, Perth and Kinross. A juvenile Kumlien's Gull was at Brora, Highland, on 27th, meanwhile nine Iceland Gulls and five Glaucous Gulls remained on offer.

The long-staying Forster's Tern was last reported at Upton Park, Poole, on 25th, though one would think it will crop up again. Two Gull-billed Terns were a great find on South Uist on 24th. Any record of multiple birds is noteworthy, but particularly so when there are only four previous county records!

Gull-billed Tern, Orosay, S Uist, Outer Hebrides (Andrew Stevenson).

With fewer than 10 previous records from the archipelago, Shetland was happy to welcome a drake Blue-winged Teal at Scatness on 23rd, where it remained for the day mingling with Eurasian Teal. Just two Lesser Scaup remained: the lingering drake at Loch Leven NNR, Perth and Kinross, until 22nd and a new drake at Lough Swilly, Co Donegal, from 23rd. Ring-necked Duck and Green-winged Teal numbered 14 apiece. A new female Ferruginous Duck was at Hickling Broad NWT, Norfolk, from 24th, while the pair remained at Napton Reservoir, Warwickshire, throughout. Kent's drake was last reported at Whetsted GPs on 23rd. Garganey finally arrived in slightly better numbers, including five in Scotland.

Ring-necked Duck, Clondalkin, Dublin (Holly Grogan).

Three Surf Scoter included Suffolk's lingering first-winter drake and the regular adult drake in Burghead Bay, Moray and Nairn. Another flew east past Gosford Bay, Lothian, on 28th.An immature was tracked north between Whitburn Coastal Park, Durham, and Coquet Island, Northumberland, on 24th. White-billed Divers remained off four Scottish sites, including an adult off Dunure, Ayrshire.

Surf Scoter, Walberswick, Suffolk (Paul Coombes).

Two Red-breasted Geese lingered into the week, with the first-winter still at Burnham Overy, Norfolk, until 22nd and the adult commuting between Frampton Marsh RSPB and Freiston Shore RSPB, Lincolnshire, throughout. A Richardson's Cackling Goose was on North Uist on 22nd, when the adult Black Brant was last reported at Kilnsea, East Yorkshire.

Red-breasted Goose (centre) with Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire (Lee Adcock).


Western Palearctic

A Rock Sparrow in the Netherlands on 27th was a curious record, although perhaps not as exciting as it ought to be as the bird was ringed. This largely resident, high-altitude species of southern Europe and central Asia is an extremely unlikely vagrant to north-west Europe, with the only British record concerning one at Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, on 14 June 1981.

Switzerland hosted two national seconds, with a male Semicollared Flycatcher on 20th and Isabelline Wheatear on 28th. A Spur-winged Lapwing was discovered in Hungary on 28th, which was also a second national record. A dark-morph Western Reef Heron at Shëngjin on 25th was a first for Albania. Norway also secured another national first when a Black-winged Kite was photographed south of Oslo, with another present south of Göteborg, Sweden, from 26-27th. A Pygmy Cormorant was in southern Sweden from 26th – the country's second after one in 1913. A male Black-faced Bunting was trapped and ringed at Jurmo, Finland, on 25th, becoming the country's third record.

Spain held onto its Intermediate Egret for another week. Meanwhile, a Red-necked Nightjar was a nice find on the southern coast of France. The Canary Islands reported a handful of Sudan Golden Sparrows, including belated news of a new male on Tenerife and at least three at two sites on Gran Canaria. Another Black-capped Petrel was logged off Ponta do Sol on Santo Antão, Cape Verde, while São Vicente hosted a Black Heron on 17 April, with the Intermediate Egret still present too. Two Wood Duck remained on the Azores, with the female still on Terceira and the adult drake still on São Miguel. Terceira's American Great Egret was reported again on 27th.

An immature Brown Booby in Bosphorus Strait on 27th was the first record for Turkey.


Written by: Dan Owen

Dan Owen is a Cheshire-based birder with a keen interest in ringing and wildfowl. He works for the BirdGuides news team. Follow him on Twitter: @_danielowen