Review of the Week: 22nd-28th April 2004


The week began with a settled spell of weather and hot temperatures, but by the end of the week this had given way to cool east/northeasterlies and rain for much of the country. However, the pace from last week showed no sign of letting up as a broad range of overshoots in reasonable numbers continued to be found. Unfortunately, many of the quality rarities were brief.

None of the rarest birds this week chose to linger long. A Song Sparrow reported from Exminster Marshes (Devon) on Sunday 25th and briefly on Monday 26th would have proved very popular indeed had it proved co-operative. The last British record was in 1994 when one frequented Seaforth NR (Lancs) in mid-October. A Pallid Swift over St. Agnes (Scilly) on Sunday 25th moved through quickly; presumably the subtlety of identification masks the true status of this species in Britain? Finally, a 1st-summer Lanner of the North African race on Bardsey (Gwynedd) on Thursday 22nd was an intriguing sighting in view of the number of overshoots during the week.

White-winged Black Tern: Brogborough Lake, Beds. (Photo: Nic Hallam)

Pectoral Sandpiper: Campfield Marsh, Cumbria. (Photo: Tristan Reid) Pectoral Sandpiper: Campfield Marsh, Cumbria. (Photo: Tristan Reid)

A White-billed Diver passed Newbiggin and Hauxley (Northumberland) on Wednesday 28th, whilst up to 5 were still off Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on 25th and one remains at Kirkabister (Shetland). A Night Heron passed over St. Mary’s (Scilly) on Friday 23rd and 2 more were reported over Felixstowe (Suffolk) on Wednesday 28th. A scattering of Great White Egrets included a mobile bird in Cornwall, another in E. Sussex and one on Shetland. Three Purple Herons included singles at Pegwell Bay (Kent) on Thursday 22nd, Grove Ferry (Kent) on Monday 26tth and Priorslee Lake (Shropshire) on Tuesday 27th. A Whiskered Tern was at Shapwick Heath NNR (Somerset) from Saturday 24th-26th and a White-winged Black Tern at Brogborough Lake (Beds) on Tuesday 27th. Several Red-footed Falcons were reported: a male at Grove Ferry (Kent) on Saturday 24th; 1st-summer male at Barton on Sea (Hants) on Sunday 25th and 2 first-summer males over Nanjizal (Cornwall) on Monday 26th. A Long-billed Dowitcher was at Bay of Sandoyne (Orkney) on Tuesday 27th, and the bird at Bothal Pond (Northumberland) was last seen on Friday 23rd. Other scarce waders included Pectoral Sandpipers on the Bann Estuary (Londonderry) on Monday 26th and at Campfield Marsh (Cumbria) from Tuesday 27th onwards. A Kentish Plover was a good find at Pool of Virkie (Shetland) from Sunday 24th onwards and is only the 2nd for Shetland (the first was on Fair Isle in 1949!) Temminck's Stints were at Saltholme Pools (Cleveland) from Thursday 22nd-23rd and Ynys Hir (Ceredigion) on Monday 26th and at least 37 Dotterel included 17 at Davidstow Airfield (Cornwall) on Wednesday 28th. A 1st-summer Ross's Gull was reported at Bowness-on-Solway (Cumbria) on Thursday 22nd and a Bonaparte's Gull was at Dungarven (Co. Waterford) on Saturday 24th, with the summer-plumaged bird last seen in Cardiff Bay (Glamorgan) on Saturday 24th and the adult still on South Uist early in the week. Skua passage has been noted along the Channel all week, with the maximum 64 Pomarine Skuas past Splash Point (East Sussex) on Monday 26th, but this figure was eclipsed by 156 passing Balranald (Outer Hebrides) on Thursday 22nd.

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Hoopoe: Stiddington, Cambs. (Photo: Chris Martin) Hoopoe: Stiddington, Cambs. (Photo: Kit Day)

Woodchat Shrike: Gwent Levels, Gwent. (Photo: Dave Brassey) Woodchat Shrike: Gwent Levels, Gwent. (Photo: Dave Brassey)

A male Citrine Wagtail was reported briefly at Salthouse (Norfolk) on Saturday 24th, a Tawny Pipit was on Tresco (Scilly) the same day, and a Richard's Pipit at West Runton (Norfolk) on Sunday 25th. A Bonelli’s Warbler sp was on Lundy (Devon) on Monday 26th. A Subalpine Warbler was at Nanquidno (Cornwall) on Monday 26th, with others remaining at St. Mary’s to 23rd, and Land’s End and Sennen (Cornwall) to the 24th. Alpine Swifts were over Beeston (Norfolk) on Thursday 22nd and Cromer (Norfolk) on Monday 26th, with others over St. Mary’s on Monday 26th, Weymouth (Dorset) on Tuesday 27th and Louth (Lincs) on Wednesday 28th. Several more Red-rumped Swallows were noted: one on Bardsey on Thursday 22nd; Sandwich Bay (Kent) the same day with 2 at Grove Ferry on Friday 23rd; at least 2 on Scilly between 25th and 27th; and 2 at Lydney (Glos) from Wednesday 28th onwards. Woodchat Shrikes were at Gwent Levels (Gwent) on Saturday 24th and Tresco on Friday 23rd and Sunday 25th; birds from last week at Chambers Wall (Kent) and Nanquidno remained until Thursday 22nd. There were also at least 13 Serins reported, a dozen Hoopoes (including 2 on Orkney) and 3 Wrynecks. Short-toed Larks were on St. Agnes from Thursday 22nd-23rd, Fair Isle (Shetland) on Friday 23rd and St. Mary’s on Wednesday 28th. New Yellow-browed Warblers include a bird at Skelmersdale (Lancs) from Monday 26th onwards and another at Kilnsea (E. Yorks) on Sunday 25th, plus the long-stayer remains at Stodmarsh (Kent) – just how many of these endearing sprites have wintered in western Europe following the superb influx of last autumn? Of note, 356 Grasshopper Warblers were counted on Bardsey on Sunday 24th.

Grasshopper Warbler: Marton Mere, Lancs. (Photo: Phillip Tomkinson)

The Bufflehead was last seen at Pugney’s CP (W. Yorks) on Thursday 22nd. On the Outer Hebrides the Harlequin Duck remains on Lewis. The contentious Chiffchaff in Lancashire, considered by some to be an Iberian, remains, apparently responding well to tapes of Iberian Chiffchaff, but plumage-wise looking like a Chiffchaff. Both Dusky Warblers were still present early in the week, as were the Hume's Warbler in London, Northern Long-tailed Tit in Essex and Rose-coloured Starlings in Cornwall and Scilly.

White Stork: Horbury, W. Yorks. After all the media fuss and an artificial nest platform, the birds moved on! (Photo: Sean Gray) White Stork: Northwich, Cheshire. (Photo: Paul Hill)

Harlequin Duck: Lewis, Outer Hebrides. This long-stayer shows little sign of moving on. (Photo: Roy Passley) Ring-necked Duck: Gwent Levels, Gwent. The indistinct neck-collar is often hidden, but this shot illustrates how the species derives its name. (Photo: Dave Brassey)
Written by: Russell Slack