Review of the Week: 27 March-2 April 2023


It certainly felt like spring had arrived, with several more common migrants making their presence known, indeed a Sedge Warbler back on patch over the weekend is my earliest by far. Smart male Common Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers started to filter through, and many passage Ospreys made the news page. The first Common Whitethroat of 2023 was in Cardiff, Glamorgan, on 1st.

It quickly became apparent that a large-scale overland passage of Kittiwake was underway on 1 April. Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire fared particularly well, with a single flock of 200 tracked north-east along the River Trent early afternoon, more than doubling the previous Nottinghamshire record count. A Razorbill was a brief visitor to Newington Flash, South Yorkshire, on 2nd, and Langford Lowfields RSPB, Nottinghamshire, later the same day – the sixth county record. An equally brief Eurasian Stone-curlew just north of Derby on 2nd was the county's first record since 2013.

Razorbill, Langford Lowfields RSPB, Nottinghamshire (Alan Clewes).

The adult male Lesser Kestrel continued to perform on St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, into the recording week, although wasn't reported after 27th.

Lesser Kestrel, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly (Graham Jepson).

Light easterlies saw the inevitable small arrival of White-spotted Bluethroat, with a male briefly at Fairburn Ings RSPB, West Yorkshire, on the morning of 2nd, while another male was showing well at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, the same day. Newbiggin also played host to the county's last White-spotted Bluethroat, almost to the day in 2018. The 2nd also saw a Bluethroat at Blakeney Point, Norfolk, which wasn't assigned to subspecies but presumably also would have been cyanecula

White-spotted Bluethroat, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland (Frank Golding).

While there was a clear decrease in Alpine Swifts this week, some 192 reports made the news page through the week. Better still, new counties managed to get involved with the current influx, allowing more birders to connect in their home county, including a showy individual at Elton Reservoir, Greater Manchester; two at Conwy RSPB and Llandudno Junction, Conwy, plus singles at Mull, Argyll, Gronant, Clwyd, Cuckoo Bank, Staffordshire, Warwick Castle, Warwickshire, Croft, Leicestershire, Eyeworth, Bedfordshire, and one flirting with the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border around Cranfleet Lock. Unidentified swift species were reported from seven sites, while early Common Swifts were over Brotton, Cleveland, and Venus Pool NR, Shropshire. 

Alpine Swift, Elton Reservoir, Greater Manchester (Martin Loftus).

The drake Ferruginous Duck lingered at Filby Broad, Norfolk, throughout while the female made another appearance at Aqualate Park, Staffordshire, on 29th. The handful of Lesser Scaup remained at their respective waterbodies, with a drake at Dix Pit, Oxfordshire, seemingly the same first-winter that had previously been present at Farmoor Reservoir until 27th. The lingering drake American Wigeon at Otmoor RSPB, Oxfordshire, was the sole example of the species, while Ring-necked Duck and Green-winged Teal were reported from 23 and seven sites respectively.

Ring-necked Duck, Boat of Garten, Highland (Peter Stronach).

The long-staying drake Black Scoter was again noted off Stag Rocks, Northumberland, on 27th only and six Surf Scoter included up to four off Llanddulas, Conwy (two drakes and two females), plus other lingering birds at Cork Harbour and Aberlady Bay, Lothian. Both drake King Eider remained steadfast.

Northumberland's popular Richardson's Cackling Goose remained around Earsdon and another was reported again at Loch Gruinart RSPB, Islay, on 28th. The apparent Lesser Canada Goose was again with Pink-footed Geese near Blackhill, Aberdeenshire, on 31st while a Todd's Canada Goose was on the Ribble Estuary, Lancashire, noted at both Crossens Outer and Banks Marsh. Loch Gruinart RSPB, Islay, also continued to host the adult Red-breasted Goose.

In Aberdeenshire, the adult Ross's Gull continued to put in appearances off Kinnaird Head and was last noted on 31st. A first-winter Bonaparte's Gull was reported at Brockhall GPs, Herefordshire, on 30th though there were no further updates thereafter. The usual, long-staying Ring-billed Gulls remained; however, a count of six at Blennerville, Co Kerry, on 27th was particularly notable in this day and age. Just one Kumlien's Gull made the sightings page (a lingering juvenile on Unst), while Iceland and Glaucous Gulls remained much the same. The adult Forster's Tern was again at Nimmo's Pier, Co Galway, on 27th.

Iceland Gull, Fair Isle, Shetland (Patrick Safford).

The Dutch-ringed White Stork was last noted at Cam Washes on 27th, the details of which came back over the weekend: the bird was ringed as an unsexed nestling in June 2020, just ESE of Schalkwijk, and had been reported again in The Netherlands in 2021. I'm sure this is welcome news to anyone who saw this bird – confirmed wild White Storks from the Continent are rare fodder indeed. Lingering unringed adults remained at Worth Marsh, Kent, and Stanway Green, Essex.

White Stork, Cam Washes, Cambridgeshire (Jon Heath).

A Purple Heron was new in Devon, just south of Stover CP on the evening of 2nd. Four Black-crowned Night Herons were on offer this week. First off, an adult was videoed at Farrihy, Co Clare, on 28th, though wasn't seen again. Elsewhere, an adult proved more reliable at Lamby, Glamorgan, between 30-31st, one was at Brent Reservoir, London, on 1st, and another was on St Mary's, Scilly, on 2nd.

Black-crowned Night Heron, Lamby, Glamorgan (Tate Lloyd).

An unidentified ringtail harrier turned up on St Mary's, Scilly, on 30 March and continued to roam the archipelago until at least 2 April, by which point photographs had finally confirmed the bird's ID as an impressively early Montagu's Harrier. A Rough-legged Buzzard was reported at Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, on 1st, while the Shetland bird remained accommodating.

Montagu's Harrier, Bryher, Isles of Scilly (Isaac Ogden).

A handful of White-billed Divers were noted off Moray and Nairn, with up to two in Burghead Bay throughout and two off Cullen on 30th while on Shetland, up to three were also off Gloup, Yell. A brief windy spell in the south of the country at the week's end saw two Great Shearwaters pass Lizard Point, Cornwall. The adult Double-crested Cormorant was still at Doon Lough, Co Leitrim, until at least 31 March, and all three Long-billed Dowitchers remained in place.

Two of Kent's Hume's Leaf Warblers continued into the week, at Sandgate and Dover, while a new bird was discovered on the Norfolk coast at Overstrand on 31st. A Yellow-browed Warbler was reported in a garden at Marlow Bottom, Bucks, on 31st.

Ireland's trio of Eurasian Penduline Tits remained elusive at Lough Beg, Co Cork, and up to four continued to be reported at Elmley NNR, Kent. A smart male was new at Dungeness RSPB, Kent, on 2nd – the first at the site since 2016.

Hoopoe, Comber, Down (Garry Armstrong).

Early spring overshoots included a single Red-rumped Swallow at Lough Aderra, Co Cork, on 1st and a Woodchat Shrike was at Nanjizal Valley, Cornwall, on 2nd. Meanwhile, eight localities recorded Hoopoe, none more northerly than the lingering bird at Comber, Co Down. Four Great Grey Shrikes continued, split between Kent, Hampshire and West Sussex. A single Shore Lark remained at Beacon Ponds, East Yorkshire, as did the flock of 10 at Holkham Gap, Norfolk. The first-winter Richard's Pipit lengthened its stay on St Mary's, Scilly, and the Eastern Yellow Wagtail was last reported at Carlton Marshes SWT, Suffolk, on 27th.

Red-rumped Swallow, Lough Aderra, Cork (Gemma Kelleher).

Great Grey Shrike, Shatterford, Hampshire (Matthew Barfield).

The Cornish Little Bunting remained at Metherell all week. A European Serin was logged flying in off the sea at North Foreland, Kent, on 28th and another overflew St Catherine's Point, Isle of Wight, on 29th.

Non-avian news concerned a Camberwell Beauty at Wisley Common, Surrey, on 27 March.


Western Palearctic

The male Diederik Cuckoo continued to attract admirers at Lake Paralimni, Cyprus. News from Israel concerned a Yellow-billed Kite photographed at Wadi Arabi on 27th (the sixth national record) and an immature Yellow-billed Stork at Ma'ale Gilboa Fishponds. A single Swinhoe's Storm Petrel remained off Eilat. Belated news of a male Masked Wagtail on El Gouna golf course between 23-25th represents the first Egyptian record of this attractive subspecies. Meanwhile in Turkey, a Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit was photographed near Istanbul on 26th.

Diederik Cuckoo, Lake Paralimni, Famagusta (Matthew Smith).

A female Black-throated Thrush was new in Sweden, while the popular Baltimore Oriole and Siberian Rubythroat remained, with the drake Blue-winged Teal for back-up. The male Black-throated Thrush continued in Norway, as did the Oriental Turtle Dove. The male Dusky Thrush was still in Berlin, Germany, and the drake Baikal Teal lingered in The Netherlands.

In the Azores, a single Snowy Egret was reported again on Terceira on 2nd and the Pied-billed Grebe remained on São Miguel. The Canary Islands also offered lingering rarities, namely the adult Red-billed Tropicbird on Fuerteventura and Semipalmated Plover on Tenerife. Spain's sixth Sora was discovered at an unassuming reedy pool just outside of El Astillero, Cantabria. A Black Heron was at São Nicolau, Cape Verde, on 27th.

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