Review of the Week: 26th February–3rd March 2004

Pine Bunting: Choseley Drying Barns, Norfolk. (Photo: Mark Breaks) Pine Bunting: Choseley Drying Barns, Norfolk. (Photo: Mike Lawrence)

Pine Bunting: Choseley Drying Barns, Norfolk. (Photo: Dave Hawkins) Pine Bunting: Choseley Drying Barns, Norfolk. (Photo: Dave Hawkins)

A cracking male Pine Bunting was a nice find at Choseley Drying Barns (Norfolk) on Saturday 28th, remaining throughout the week and still present at the time of writing. Late February/March would appear to be prime time for birds to be found in Britain, the majority of which have been males, which suggests that females are overlooked. With just under 40 British and Irish records, mainland sightings are at a premium, and this is only the 2nd for the well-watched county of Norfolk; the previous record was a bird which crossed the county boundary from Suffolk in late October 1995. Perhaps close scrutiny of local Yellowhammer flocks will produce yet more records this spring?

Dusky Warbler: Paignton, Devon. (Photo: Joe Cloutman) Dusky Warbler: Paignton, Devon. (Photo: Joe Cloutman)

Pallas's Warbler: Dover, Kent. (Photo: Keith Holland) Yellow-browed Warbler: Stodmarsh, Kent. (Photo: Dylan Wrathall)

Little Bunting: Newborough Warren, Anglesey. (Photo: Robert Hughes) Great Grey Shrike: Cow Down, Berks. (Photo: Jerry O'Brien)

Elsewhere, 'sibes' continued to perform well, with Hume's Warblers still in London and Co. Wexford, Pallas's Warbler in Kent, 4 Yellow-browed Warblers and the Dusky Warbler in Devon. The Little Bunting continues to show well on occasion at Newborough Warren (Anglesey) and late news of a Rustic Bunting trapped in Wiltshire at the end of January further reinforced what a superb winter it had been for eastern rarities. In Lincolnshire the American Robin remains faithful to the outskirts of Grimsby and Northern Long-tailed Tits are still present in Essex and Suffolk. A Serin was reported from Clwyd on Monday 1st and the Rose-coloured Starling is still present in Cornwall. At least 13 Great Grey Shrikes were reported during the week, the majority from southern counties. A Wheatear in Hampshire was the only migrant of note during the week, and two House Martins were logged.

Kumlien's Gull: Stornoway, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: Martin Scott) Glaucous Gull: Skegness, Lincs. (Photo: Nige Lound)

Ring-necked Duck: North Duffield, N. Yorks. (Photo: Russell Slack) American Wigeon: Rogerstown, Dublin. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)

A Dotterel at Hanging Houghton (Northants) on Thursday 26th was notable and a White-tailed Eagle was seen over the Loch of Strathbeg (Aberdeenshire) on Wednesday 3rd and had been colour-ringed in Finland. Nine inland Fulmars were noted in the Southeast and Midlands on Sunday 29th on which date 154 'Blue' Fulmars moved north past Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) and a Cory's Shearwater was watched off East Tilbury (Essex). The two Grey-bellied Brants were still in Elly Bay (Co. Mayo) and at least 7 Black Brants were reported. Rare ducks comprised 2 King Eiders, 3 Surf Scoters, 4 Lesser Scaup, 6 Ring-necked Ducks, 3 Ferruginous Duck, 8 American Wigeon and 9 Green-winged Teals. Fortunes for gull-watchers improved slightly during the week, with at least 70 Iceland Gulls and just under 40 Glaucous Gulls, along with 8 Kumlien's Gulls, including 4 at Stornoway, Lewis (Outer Hebrides) and several American Herring Gulls and Caspian Gulls just into double-figures. The American Coots remain on Shetland and the Outer Hebrides as does the Forster's Tern in Galway and Lesser Yellowlegs in Cornwall with a second bird reported from the county at the weekend.

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The prospects from now on very much depend upon the weather. A mild southerly airflow could encourage a rush of early migrants, and winter visitors could be prompted to start to move. March is often an exciting month with plenty to look for, and look forward to.

Spoonbill: National Wetlands Centre, Carmarthen. (Photo: Mark newton) Common Crane: Newton Arlosh, Cumbria. (Photo: Tristan Reid)
Written by: Russell Slack