Review of the Week: 22nd-28th March 2002


It has certainly been a crazy week for rarities! Winds coming up from Iberia ensured that there was a good number of overshooting migrants, with most arriving in the southwest and southern Ireland. For the rest of the week most of us have been bathed in brilliant sunshine under azure blue skies, but as would be expected with the arrival of the Easter weekend this is expected to convert to cloud and rain by Sunday! A more detailed review of the events of the last week will shortly be available in another article.

It is difficult to pick a bird of the week, but I guess the accolade should really go to the Little Bustard found on St. Agnes (Scilly) on the 22nd. It was last seen flying towards the island of Annet that evening and sadly for those that journeyed to see it there was no further sign. Compensation for those who missed out on this bird came in the shape of a superb male Black-eared Wheatear at Nanquidno (Cornwall) on 23rd, though the form to which this bird belongs is still a subject of debate; it is still present at the time of writing. There was more to come for the southwest when a Scops Owl was discovered in the car park at Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 25th, which remained long enough for those interested to travel back to Cornwall to see the bird. Further excitement was caused by a Pallid Swift found over Bryher (Scilly) on the 25th and although, thanks to a couple of autumn influxes in recent years, they are no longer the rarity they once were it was still a great find. On the 27th the southwest continued to dominate the news service with the discovery of a male Little Bittern near Exeter (Devon). Sadly the bird was picked up moribund this morning and taken into care. Back-up to this quartet of rarities came in the form of a Woodchat Shrike, Subalpine Warbler and Night Heron in Cornwall, perhaps as many as 19 Alpine Swifts and 15 Hoopoes. In addition there was also the now expected spring Little Bunting record with one on St. Mary's (Scilly).

It is difficult to believe I know but there were also rarities elsewhere! A Purple Heron was seen in Dorset on 25th, a Black-bellied Dipper was seen near Barnsley (South Yorkshire) on the 23rd and 24th and Gyr Falcons were seen on Orkney with a grey bird on 24th and a white morph on the same day that had been present for a week. A Grey Phalarope was off Flamborough Head on 23rd and 2 Serins were seen in Suffolk on 24th. At least one and possibly 2 Arctic Redpolls made a confused entry onto the news service from Llanfairfechan (Conwy) and one bird is still present, but extremely elusive. Elsewhere, small numbers of Common Cranes have been recorded at several locations as have a number of Rough-legged Buzzards on the move. Continuing with raptors, small numbers of Red Kites have been seen coming in-off at several locations along the south coast.

Many migrants have now been represented with the vanguard of a few individuals. In the last week there have been several reports of Hobby, Garganey and Black-necked Grebes, whilst early warblers have included reports of Sedge Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Common Whitethroat and Garden Warbler. Please remember to submit all of your records of migrants to the BTO Migration Watch team at:


Many of the long-staying birds have not been seen for a few days, including the Lesser Scaup in Dorset, female Hooded Merganser in Northumberland and Bonaparte's Gull in West Sussex. Old stalwarts remain such as the Snowy Egret on Arran, King Eider in Norfolk, Black Duck in Devon, Lesser Yellowlegs in Cheshire, Ross's Gull in North Yorkshire, Long-billed Dowitcher in Belfast and Hume's Warbler in Northumberland. Several 'new' Shorelarks have been picked-up on passage and good numbers of white-winged gulls and Nearctic ducks can still be found scattered about.

As spring marches on we have added a number of interesting articles to our news page this week. Andy Wilson of the BTO who co-ordinated the recent Nightingale survey tells us about the status of the Nightingale and some of the better locations for seeing this diminishing songster:


The Nightingale must be one of our most famous birds, well represented in our literature and media, so Andy's insight is an interesting read. Spring is also the time for our some of our rarer species to attract the attentions of egg collectors and a short article by Perry Haines is a timely reminder to us all on what we publish in the public domain:


Finally we are pleased to announce that BirdGuides is not just about bird news and we appreciate the many birdwatchers are interested in other aspects of wildlife, be it cetaceans, dragonflies, moths or butterflies. As a result were are pleased to announce that we are now sponsoring the 'Immigration of Lepidoptera' website:


produced by Steve Nash (the site will shortly be moving to its own domain – we will keep you informed). As a result Steve will kindly be supplying our Bird News Extra page with regular monthly reviews on migrant moths and butterflies. We hope you will agree that this is an exciting new dimension to our news service.

Written by: Russell Slack, BirdGuides