April 24, 2024

Review of the week: March 25 to April 1, 2024

The blustery, rainy weather and low temperatures meant it was an Easter weekend to keep warm – and several returning summer visitors must have wondered why they returned in such a hurry. The first spring migrants recorded this week included locust It is Reed Warblers, Common Nightingale, Common cuckoo It is Common tern.

A healthy period in early spring Seagull The passage, driven mainly by easterly winds on Sunday, saw the species well represented across central England to the Pennines, with several birds now beginning to sport their pink-breasted, black-headed summer outfits. Although most herds were in the single digits, it was still a welcome early flurry.


Little Gull, Pugney CP, West Yorkshire (Tim Melling).

In Dorset, a pleasant discovery saw the return of the second winter Forster’s tern to Poole Harbor from the 30th (after a possible sighting on the 26th), having spent the winter on the north coast of Brittany, France. Last year it was present in the municipality’s tern colonies for almost seven months, between April 23rd and November 11th.


Forster’s Tern, Arne RSPB, Dorset (Mark Leitch).

Suspicions about two intriguing first winter drake scoters keeping close company with the drake White-winged Scoter in Inch, Co Kerry, from the beginning of December they were confirmed on the 31st, with both turning out to be white-winged. This continues its stratospheric rise in the Irish context. Before the winter of 2023/24, there was only one previous Irish record – on Achill Island, Co Mayo, last winter. The trio therefore became the second, third and fourth individuals recorded in Ireland, with the fifth following in quick succession at Inishmore, Co Galway, in January. The mini-herd remained accompanied by two Surferwith four more off the coast of Great Britain.

White-winged Scoter and Surf Scoter, Inch, Kerry (Aidan Kelly).

Causing an unexpected contraction to allow only Woolston Eyes, Cheshire, was the presence of a drake Red Duck from the 26th. This is probably one of the last surviving individuals left in Britain, with the previously reported sighting involving one in Rutland in January 2023. Surprisingly, this was joined at the site by two Ferruginous Duck at 30-31 – Cheshire’s first record – with the persistent Lesser Scaup also still present. Lesser Scaup in five other counties included a new drake in Glamorgan.


Ruddy Duck, Woolston Eyes NR (permission only), Cheshire (Dan Owen).

Remaining at Sand Loch, Aberdeenshire, until the 26th, the adult dragon head-to-head it broke off its northeastward trajectory and turned southwestward, moving to Loch Level, Perth and Kinross, from 29 – where it became another county first. Laois was gifted with a welcome county first with a drake American wigeon in Shanahoe Marsh. It was one of two in Ireland, with a further three in Britain. Other totals comprised 21 Green-winged teal30 Ring-necked ducks and 17 to smell. Garganey They have been to more than 50 locations across far north Lancashire, but numbers remain low compared to this time in 2023 and 2022.


Bufflehead, Forvie Sands NNR, Aberdeenshire (Ron Macdonald).


Ring-necked duck, Glasgow, Clyde (Anne Carrington-Cotton).

A diver off the Aberdeenshire coast in Whitehills seemed a good option for the county’s first dive. Pacific, although unfortunately it was not seen again. The adult in Crookhaven, Co Cork, began changing into his summer clothes, while the Spot-billed Grebe was first reported since mid-February in Inishmore, Co Galway. White-billed divers it included at least eight in Sandend, Aberdeenshire, and one on the Ayrshire coast.


Pacific Diver, Crookhaven, Cork (Richard Mills).

An adult Red-breasted goose was again at Blakeney Harbour, Norfolk, on the 30th and East Yorkshire Brant Black lasted until April. Caithness organized a snow goose in Halkirk.

In Ayrshire the first winter Myrtle Warbler has remained a reliable visitor to a Kilwinning garden throughout the week, with its 42-day season to date making it the longest-staying myrtle on record, beating the previous record of 38 set by the first British record – at Newton St Cyres , Devon, in 1955. An ongoing charitable collection has raised over £2,400 for North Ayrshire Cancer Care to date.


Myrtle Warbler (top) and Blue Tit, Kilwinning, Ayrshire (Stevie Clarke).


Long-stay Myrtle Warbler Chart (OrniStats).

A Red-flanked bluetail on Fair Isle, Shetland, from the 29th is only the second spring record for the island. Three Savings were in the southwest, while one in Jubilee River NR, Berkshire, on the 1st had some residents wondering if it was a reckless April Fool. It was not, although unfortunately it was never seen again. If confirmed, a Cetti’s Warbler at Newton Mearns on the 29th would be a first for Clyde.


Red-flanked bluetail, Fair Isle, Shetland (Alex Penn).

Poupa, Portland, Dorset (Martin Adlam).

The first red swallow of 2024 mowed down in Christchurch Harbour, Dorset, on the morning of the 29th. Alpine swift arrived fresh from a crossing of Biscay over Shoalstone Point, Devon, on the 28th, followed by one at Foreness Point, Kent, on the 31st.


Red Swallow, Christchurch Harbour, Dorset (Scott Usher).

A letter Richard Pipit near Okehampton Devon on the 26th would not be relocated, with one still in Cumbria. O Little flag persisted at a feeding station in Devon and both Rustic Flag It is Coues Arctic Redpoll remained in West Raynham, Norfolk. A new Great Gray Shrike in mainland Shetland, remaining birds were joined in Norfolk and Dorset, with Shore Larks still in five locations.


Gray Shrike, Weeting, Norfolk (Chris Darby).


Shore Lark, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland (Paul Davison).

It’s almost impossible to separate the ‘wild’ White Storks of Knepp releases these days, although they remain a popular visitor wherever they appear. Birds were recorded at 17 sites this week, including one between Liverpool and Manchester on the 29th and one tracked southeast along the Severn Valley through Shropshire and Worcestershire on the 1st. A heading north Glossy ibis over York, North Yorkshire, city center on the 26th was a remarkable discovery. London and South Yorkshire boasted Black Parrotswith Pale Harriers still in Norfolk and Glamorgan.


White Stork, Blackstone, Worcestershire (Craig Reed).

A first winter Bonaparte’s Gull was a welcome find in Ceredigion, with a new adult in Co Antrim. Three Ring-billed gulls remained in Ireland and white-winged gull numbers declined further in late March, although four Kumlien gulls included two in Cornwall.

Remaining shorebirds included four Long-beaked dowitchers it’s three Lesser Yellowlegs. A Eurasian Dotterel at Highland on the 30th was one of the first migrants, with another recorded overnight at Warwickshire on the 31st.


Long-billed Dowitcher (front) and Black-tailed Godwit, Cley Marshes NWT, Norfolk (Nick Appleton).

Western Palearctic

Fortunately, a Alpine Accent in Andler, Belgium, April 1st was not an April Fool’s Day. The date is synonymous with several ‘mega’ finds in the past, with the Staffordshire Belted Kingfisher in 2005 being undoubtedly the most famous. Two Ross Geese remained on the north bank of IJsselmeer, Netherlands, and a Falcado Duck It is Laughing Seagull of unknown origin were in Poland. Sociable Lapwings were registered in Germany and the Netherlands and one American Robin was again in Keflavík, Iceland.

A Wood Duck, American Coot It is Blue Heron were in the Azores. Gibraltar’s first Manx Shearwater passed through Europa Point on the 28th. Sicily, Italy, hosted a man Moussier redstart.


Manx Shearwater, Gibraltar, Gibraltar (Robert Perez).

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