With another week of largely unproductive week of weather, it was another steady severn days in which Ireland again dominated the headlines. Otherwise, new migrants were thin on the ground, but nonetheless slowly trickled in: Sand Martins were this week's winner, spread across 16 sites and two made it as far north as Strathclyde Loch, Clyde. Little Ringed Plovers were at 10 sites, but Northern Wheatears were at just two. An early female Black-winged Stilt was reported at Cliffe Pools RSPB, Kent, on 3rd.
The Egyptian Vulture lengthened its stay at Lough Funshinagh, Co Roscommon, throughout the week, finally giving itself up to the masses daily during its ninth month in the country. The sheep carcass it had been attending last week has been removed, and without a clear lead to where the bird is now spending the day the best chance to catch up with it is at the roost site at either dawn or dusk.
The arrival of a new Brown Booby seems almost a bi-monthly event these days, although none of the recent birds have offered themselves up like the St Ives and Kynance Cove birds of 2019. We stay in Cornwall for this report, too. One was found exhausted in a car park in Perranporth on 2nd, although it's thought to have been present before then, and likely a victim of Storm Eunice. Sadly, however, the bird died in care overnight.
Two days of negative news didn't bode well for the American Robin at Eastbourne, East Sussex, with the most popular bird of the year so far not noted at all this week. With another week of sub-par weather to begin the month of March, it perhaps isn't a surprise the bird has either moved on or succumbed. The Hume's Leaf Warbler, however, was still along the promenade, delighting those who had made the effort.
In Lothian, Musselburgh's White-winged Scoter became reliable at the turn of the month, with at least three Surf Scoter for company. Further 'Surfies' remained off Moray & Nairn, Conwy, Carmarthen, Cornwall and Scilly. The drake Black Scoter wasn't too difficult either, coming close to shore off Cocklawburn Beach, Northumberland, for most of the week. A probable was also off Rossbeigh, Co Kerry, on 5th. The site hosted a regular wintering drake between 2015 and 2019 so no reason why this bird won't be confirmed as such with better views.
The surplus of Lesser Scaup continued this week. The Outer Hebrides held onto four birds: three at West Loch Ollay, South Uist, and a female at Coot Loch, Benbecula. Elsewhere, four lingered at Loch Skerrols, Islay, and at least two remained at Coatbridge, Clyde; England's sole representative was the first-winter female at Abbotsbury Swannery, Dorset. In Ireland, drakes were at Lough Neagh, Co Armagh, on 4th and Lough Gara, Co Sligo.
A drake Ferruginous Duck lingered at Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, although there was no sign of the Co Tyrone bird all week. The Lothian King Eider moved between Seafield and Musselburgh, spending most time at the latter, while an adult drake was still off Nairn, Moray & Nairn. Meanwhile, the American Black Duck remained still on hand to entertain viewers at Cross Lough, Co Mayo. Both drake Baikal Teal continued to delight – at Greylake RSPB, Somerset, and Swine Moor, East Yorkshire.
Five American Wigeon were on offer, all remaining steadfast at usual haunts, although a drake resurfaced at Loch Bee, South Uist, on 6th. Green-winged Teal were at a heady 12 sites: eight in Scotland included a new drake at Guardbridge, Fife. The other four were all in the east of England: Smithy Fen, Cambridgeshire; Oare Marshes NR, Kent; and Rye Harbour NR, East Sussex. Six new Ring-necked Duck were recorded … making it 41 birds across 31 sites again this week.
For any would-be vulture twitchers, the pair of Richardson's Cackling Geese a short distance to the north-west in Co Sligo made up part of a great line-up. The birds are fairly mobile and can take some tracking down among the Barnacle Goose flocks, but favour Ballintemple or Ballygilgan NR. Another duo was at Loch nam Fèithean, North Uist, while the singleton remained at Ellister, Islay. The Ribble Marshes hosted two different Todd's Canada Geese this week, with both present on 5-6th. One bird is much duskier, the other having a pale breast.
The white-morph Snow Goose was last reported at Lissadell on 28th, while the Ribble Marshes, Lancashire, bird held out with Pink-feet. Dubious birds concerned the trio at Loch Spynie, Moray, and a single mingled with Greylag Geese at Thurcross Reservoir, North Yorkshire.
Incredibly, the Scottish Ross's Goose was again re-found, this time in Aberdeenshire. Last noted near The Wilderness, Fife, on 1st, the adult was photographed with Pink-feet between Newtonhill and Downies, Aberdeenshire, on 5th before roosting at Loch of Skene overnight.
The particularly showy Red-breasted Goose lingered on the North Norfolk coast, while the Essex bird was still spending most of its time around South Fambridge and the Islay bird remained. At least one adult Grey-bellied Brant continued to graze Dublin's football pitches. Meanwhile, four Black Brant held out, with long-staying singles in East Yorkshire, Norfolk, Essex and Dorset.
The second-winter Double-crested Cormorant hung on at Doon Lough, Co Leitrim, although it became more unreliable as the week wore on, only arriving mid-afternoon on 5th.
The Pacific Diver has seemingly departed Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir, Glamorgan, with no sign from 28th. White-billed Divers had another fair showing: the juvenile off Stag Rocks, Northumberland, was briefly accompanied by an adult on 1st, presumably the bird off nearby Dunstanburgh Castle earlier that day. The regular adult was still bobbing in South Nesting Bay, Mainland Shetland, on 6th too.
The observer effect was in full swing in Co Galway, with an upturn in Forster's Tern reports, mostly when roosting with gulls from Kinvarra Quay at low tide. The first-winter Ross's Gull at Mutton Island also proved a temptation for anyone visiting Ireland. Elsewhere, an adult performed in Dublin Harbour, Co Dublin, to a single lucky observer from the deck of a departing ferry on the evening of 1st, although there were no further sightings thereafter.
There were no new Ring-billed Gulls this week, but 12 birds across nine sites will do nicely. Tralee Bay Wetlands, Co Kerry, again had the lion's share, with two adults and two first-winters. The third-winter Azores Gull put in a further three visits to Annagh Strand, Co Mayo. After last year's spoils, Bonaparte's Gull are few and far between this winter, so a first-winter at Harbour View, Co Cork, on 4th was most welcome, while another was reported south past Conwy RSPB on 5th.
Four Kumlien's Gulls remained up for grabs: the adult was content in Newlyn harbour, Cornwall, while Cambridgeshire's third-winter was reported at Smithy Fen twice, and is presumably responsible for the sighting at Reed, Hertfordshire, on 2nd. Birds remained on Skye and Barra. Iceland Gulls were represented at 49 sites, while Glaucous Gulls were at just 29.
A Great Shearwater was logged south past Flamborough Head on 2nd – is this winter's regular bird off Northumberland finally moving on?
The adult White-tailed Lapwing was still offering some decent views at Halton Marshes, Lincolnshire, throughout. The Semipalmated Plover remained at Crookhaven, Co Cork, as did the Long-billed Dowitcher at Fluke Hall, Lancashire. Two Lesser Yellowlegs made the roll-call, with continuing birds at Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk, and Rahasane Turlough, Co Galway. The Grey Phalarope remained popular at Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland, until 2nd.
Glossy Ibis remained widespread, although most reports came south of a line between the Humber and Severn, with the single bird at Reay, Caithness, a notable outlier. Meanwhile, five Irish sites held birds, including new individuals at Ballylongford, Co Kerry, and King's Island Marsh, Co Limerick. There was an increase in flyover Common Crane reports, particularly in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. The unringed White Stork remained at Worth Marsh, Kent.
The Northern Harrier remained at Lough Boora Parklands, Co Offaly, although required some patience.
Four Great Grey Shrikes were seen this week, all lingering birds. The Hoopoe remained mobile at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, until 1st and another probable was reported near Harley, South Yorkshire, on 2nd but wasn't seen since. The first-winter Rosy Starling was reported again at Grangemouth, Forth, on 3rd, while the Pendeen bird held out.
Up to three Eurasian Penduline Tits held out at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, although occasionally went to ground when the weather deteriorated. Durham's overwintering Red-flanked Bluetail lasted until 28th, when it even treated visitors to a few bursts of song! Sadly, this preluded negative news the next day. Lingering larks included the Greater Short-toed Lark at West Runton, Norfolk, and Shore Larks at four sites (seven at Leysdown-on-Sea, Kent, four at Holkham Gap, Norfolk, one at Buckton, East Yorkshire, and two at Holy Island, Northumberland).
Avian news to one side, an unseasonal Camberwell Beauty was in Tonbridge, Kent, on 28th.
Rarest bird in the region goes to a Village Weaver at the fish farms at Abu Simbel, Egypt, the second record for both Egypt and the Western Palearctic – the first hails from the very same site in May 2006 (and was seen by the same observer!).
Big news from the Iberian Peninsula was belated news of a juvenile Allen's Gallinule photographed alive and well at Quinta do Lago, Algarve, on 25th, constituting either the third or fourth record for mainland Portugal. In Spain, the White-tailed Lapwing persisted at Ebro Delta NP and a Sociable Lapwing was in Aragón. An adult Lesser Flamingo was at Alcázar de San Juan on 27th and an immature Lesser Spotted Eagle visited Parque Guadaira, Seville. The male Snowy Owl resurfaced at Santoña on 3rd. In Canary Islands, the Semipalmated Plover on Tenerife made it into another week.
A White-crowned Wheatear was at Paphos, Cyprus, on 27-28th.
White-crowned Wheatear, Chlorakas, Cyprus (Matthew Smith).
Scandinavia's headline bird came in the form of a putative first-winter Siberian Northern Shrike, present at Vääksy, Central Finland, between 20 January and 19 February. Elsewhere, the third-winter Glaucous-winged Gull remained settled at Verdalsora, Norway, and the Siberian Rubythroat remained at Vargön, Sweden. Iceland's long-standing White-winged Scoter was still off Keflavík.
The Stejneger's Scoter continues to be a permanent feature off Denmark's coast and remained settled off Sandflugtplantage, with the White-headed Duck-Ruddy Duck duo still at Selsø Sø. The Sandhill Crane was again logged in flight at Freyenstein, Germany, on 1st and the drake Black Scoter persisted off Bad Doberan. Germany's young meena Oriental Turtle Dove was still on offer at Freiburg im Breisgau and the Swiss adult held on at Sulgen.
In Italy, a first-winter Franklin's Gull was at the mouth of Fora di Taggia, Italy, between 27 February and 1 March. A cursory glance at photographs shows it to be a different bird to the recent French first-winter, which remains unaccounted for. The second-winter American Herring Gull was again reported at Soorts-Hossegor, France, on 3rd.
The Song Sparrow continued to flirt with The Netherlands-Belgian border at Prosperdorp, allowing a steady stream of admirers to add it to respective lists. Other lingering birds included the Falcated Duck at Stuivekenskerke, Belgium, and Western Swamphen at Alblasserdam and Pygmy Cormorant at Utrecht, The Netherlands.