Review of the Week: 4-10 April 2022


Low pressure was again the dominating force of the week's weather, characterised by April showers, overcast conditions and fluctuating temperatures. Along with an increase in hirundine numbers, Ring Ouzels continued to trickle in, with no fewer than 126 reports peaking with a count of at least 21 at Penycloddiau, Clwyd, on 9th.

Most surprising on the migrant-front was an early adult Black Tern at Carr Mill Dam, Lancashire, from 8th. Arctic Terns made early movements this week too, with the first examples of the spring over Farmoor Reservoir, Oxfordshire, and Island Barn Reservoir, Surrey, on 7th. Common Terns were back at 31 sites.

Black Tern, Carr Mill Dam, Lancashire (Denis Eagling).

Appearing happily settled in the Staple Newk Northern Gannet colony at Bempton Cliffs RSPB, East Yorkshire, the Black-browed Albatross would remain an ever-present this week, spending much of the time cruising at close range along the clifftops and picking up right where it left off in 2021.

Black-browed Albatross, Bempton Cliffs RSPB, East Yorkshire (Tony Davison).

Black-browed Albatross, Bempton Cliffs RSPB, East Yorkshire (Dean Eades).

A surprise spring Hume's Leaf Warbler was photographed in a Hunstanton, Norfolk, garden on 2nd, with lingering winter visitors still at Eastbourne, East Sussex, and St Margaret's at Cliffe, Kent. Equally unexpected was a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll on Fair Isle, Shetland, on 4th.

Leaving Frampton RSPB, Lincolnshire, after 3rd, the White-tailed Lapwing's latest sojourn took it to Ken Hill Marshes from 9th, becoming Norfolk's first record. Fair Isle, Shetland, was treated to a Lesser Yellowlegs on 6-7th, with another still at Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk. Elsewhere, a Pacific Golden Plover remained at Carlton Marshes, Suffolk, a Pectoral Sandpiper persisted at Ballycotton, Co Cork, a Eurasian Stone-curlew was sound-recorded over Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, early on 10th and the Temminck's Stint lasted at East Tilbury, Essex.

White-tailed Lapwing, Snettisham Coastal Park, Norfolk (DAVID Griffiths).

Lesser Yellowlegs, Fair Isle, Shetland (Alex Penn).

In Buckinghamshire, the Blue-winged Teal candidate at Marlow continued to confound. The bird, a female, appears to show a number of features seemingly at odds with Blue-winged that might be a better match for Cinnamon Teal. This is a species regularly found in captivity with no records accepted as wild in the Western Palearctic – although an adult drake on Lewis, Outer Hebrides, in spring 2004 appears worthy of further scrutiny. Potentially anomalous features include a longer and more spatulate bill than is typical for female Blue-winged, a weak loral spot, the absence of a pale supercilium and warm brown plumage tones. It is perhaps best left as unconfirmed, making a sure-fire female Blue-winged Teal at Berry Fen, Cambridgeshire, a much safer bet to connect with.

Blue-winged/Cinnamon Teal, Marlow, Buckinghamshire (Ian Curran).

In Shetland, the drake American Black Duck resurfaced at Loch of Cliff, Unst, on 5th, with Ireland's example still at Cross Lough, Mullet, Co Mayo, on 7th. The Baikal Teal, meanwhile, held out at Swine Moor, East Yorkshire, until 5th at least. A decent week for American Wigeon saw two at Loch Fleet, Highland, and singletons at Lossie Estuary, Moray & Nairn, and Garlieston, Dumfries & Galloway, with a possible female at Walberswick, Suffolk, on 10th.

American Black Duck, Baltasound, Unst, Shetland (Robbie Brookes).

Reported Green-winged Teal comprised new birds at Lytchett Fields RSPB, Dorset, Druridge Pools, Northumberland, and Colyford, Devon, with others at six sites. Garganey numbers again continued to rise, with 267 reports throughout the week.

Garganey, Ham Wall RSPB, Somerset & Bristol (Andrew Kirby).

A veritable smörgåsbord of Aythya action at Abberton Reservoir, Essex, saw a drake Lesser Scaup accompanied by drake Ring-necked × Tufted Duck and Common Pochard × Tufted Duck hybrids alongside more expected options. Other Lesser Scaup were at Coatbridge, Clyde (two), South Uist, Outer Hebrides (two), and Lough Clubir, Co Cork. Ring-necked Duck at 27 sites included new birds in six counties.

Lesser Scaup (front bird), Abberton Reservoir, Essex (Sean Nixon).

Ring-necked Duck, Low Barns DWT, Durham (Brian Martin).

Both King Eider – at Loch Fleet, Highland, and Musselburgh, Lothian – remained in place. A young female Surf Scoter was again off Tresco, Scilly, for the first time since 11 March, with others off the coastlines of Lothian and Moray & Nairn.

King Eider (right), Loch Fleet, Highland (Mark Dawson).

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It is tempting to speculate about the origins of three white-morph adult Snow Geese at Challister, Whalsay, Shetland, from 4th. Interestingly, they appear to be the same trio that resided 800km south-west at Slimbridge WWT, Gloucestershire, from 18 January-31 March. It is enticing to think of these are potential genuine Transatlantic vagrants, but a number of feral European populations cloud the issue, including several known to have reached Shetland and Orkney. Plans are afoot to collect a feather or two for stable isotope analysis to help establish the birds' origins, just in case … Others remained at Banks Marsh, Lancashire, and Drumlemble, Argyll.

Snow Geese, Challister, Whalsay, Shetland (Angela Grace Irvine).

Richardson's Cackling Geese included at least two lingering on North Uist, Outer Hebrides, with others holding out at the Mullet, Co Mayo, and Islay, Argyll. Black Brant were again at Kilnsea, East Yorkshire, and Blue House Farm, Essex, with Todd's Canada Geese still at Stewarton, Argyll and the Mullet, Co Mayo. A Red-breasted Goose remained contented at Blakeney Harbour, Norfolk.

The sole European Serin of the week concerned a first-winter male trapped and ringed at Landguard NR, Suffolk, on 5th. Unconfirmed Iberian Chiffchaffs sang at Sinfin, Derbyshire, and Wimalford, Cornwall, with Dusky Warblers still in Kent, London and Norfolk. Four Hoopoes saw birds at Deeping St Nicholas, Lincolnshire, and Dunquin, Co Kerry, with others in Devon and Scilly.

European Serin, Landguard NR, Suffolk (Will Brame).

Single Shore Lark were logged at Holkham Gap, Norfolk, and Kessingland, Suffolk, while a flighty Little Bunting graced Polgigga, Cornwall, on 4th. Four Great Grey Shrikes were split between Comberton, Cambridgeshire, Sparham, Norfolk, Cropton Forest, North Yorkshire, and Backwater Reservoir, Angus & Dundee.

The Belted Kingfisher remains a mostly reliable draw to Roach Bridge, Lancashire, into April, with the Double-crested Cormorant at Doon Lough, Co Leitrim, also still in situ. Devon's Spotted Crake at Exminster Marshes RSPB remained popular until the week's end, with at least one still singing at Wheldrake Ings, East Yorkshire.

Belted Kingfisher, Samlesbury, Lancashire (David Bradshaw).

A Black Kite flew over Camel Estuary, Cornwall, on 6th. Four White Storks must have proved a shock for a birder-cum-aviator at 2,000 feet high over Preston, Lancashire, on 10th! New Glossy Ibis were in Norfolk, Orkney and Co Kerry; Common Cranes included one over Northumberland on 4th and 7th and two over Nottinghamshire on 10th.

White Stork, Preston, Lancashire (Bob Stinger).

The second-winter Bonaparte's Gull spent another week at Chichester GPs, West Sussex, with the Azores Gull back at Annagh Strand, Co Mayo, on 7th. A young Ring-billed Gull held out at The Lough, Co Cork, with three Kumlien's Gulls noted – at Smithy Fen, Cambridgeshire, St Peter's Pool, Mainland Orkney, and Omey Island, Co Galway.

Bonaparte's Gull, Chichester GPs, West Sussex (Andy Wilkes).

On 7th, unidentified large shearwaters flew past Cley Marshes, Norfolk, and Easington, East Yorkshire. At least two White-billed Divers lingered off Portsoy, Aberdeenshire, with singletons still at Embo, Highland, and Norwick, Unst, Shetland.


Western Palearctic

Last week's European Black-browed Albatross flew past Salo, Sweden, on 4th before a brief visit to Heligoland, Germany, on 9th, although an American Robin photographed in the centre of Reykjavík, Iceland, on 8th would, unfortunately, evade relocation.

The widely-travelled satellite-tagged second-winter Bonelli's Eagle completed a Baltics tour during the first few days of April – where it became the first for Poland, first for Kaliningrad, first for Lithuania, and first for Latvia – before heading back into Germany.

Black-and-white Warbler, Sant Joan de Mediona, Catalonia (Daniel Roca).

In Catalonia, Spain, two Elegant Terns were off Torredembarra on 7th and the female Black-and-white Warbler continued to perform a short distance away at Sant Joan de Mediona. Elsewhere, the Moroccan Wagtail lingered at El Puerto de Santa María, a Cream-coloured Courser was still at Cabo de Gata and Lesser Flamingos were back at Alcázar de San Juan (two) and Laguna de Fuente de Piedra.

On Terceira, Azores, the young female Belted Kingfisher and Great Blue Heron both held on at Praia da Vitória.

An immature Brown Booby was at îlot Saint-Ferréol, France, from 2-7th, while the Eastern Black-eared Wheatear continued in the centre of Nice. Austria's third Desert Wheatear – a female – was at Groß-Enzersdorf on 4th, with a Falcated Duck still at Snellegem, Belgium, and at least one Baikal Teal and a Western Swamphen still in The Netherlands.

Written by: Sam Viles