Migrants have been piling in during the last week – Willow Warbler counts have reached three figures on several days at south coast watchpoints, there have been small flocks of Ring Ouzels on the east coast and Cuckoos have reached Scotland but it still feels like many of our summer visitors are still thin on the ground. Where are all the Sand Martins? And there really ought to be more Lesser Whitethroats than there are. The next week or so should unveil whether some birds are just held up further south or whether they had a bad winter.
BirdTrack reporting rate for Sand Martin
Even though some species feel a little low in numbers most species are now here. There have been one or two Nightjars during the week, Swift numbers have been steadily growing, a flock of fifty birds were counted at Longham Lakes, Dorset, earlier in the week, and the first Spotted Flycatchers have also arrived.
Great Spotted Cuckoo by Cliff Woodhead
Southern overshoots have been well represented, mostly by the Hoopoe; there could have been between fifty and one hundred in the country. It is difficult to know how many Black-winged Stilts turned up, eight were seen together in Kent, with several ones and twos later in the week that could have been some of these birds dispersing, or different birds altogether. A Great Spotted Cuckoo was found in Wales, and at least six Bee-eaters graced southern counties for a few days. Given the easterly airflow there were few birds from that direction, almost certainly because the winds actually originated out in the Atlantic north of Britain and came down through the North Sea and into the east coast and not from the continent.
Purple Heron by Northeast Wildlife.co.uk
The forecast for the next week is a little more unsettled than the last week, with westerly winds dominating all week. At times these will be quite light and during these periods birds will arrive. So, it will be more of the same although Ring Ouzel numbers will definitely be much lower. The last week of April is often marked by the mass arrival of Swifts and looking at the forecast there doesn’t seem to be much that will hold them up, so look out for them in the next few days. More of the BTO Cuckoos ought to make the last leg of their journey and, fingers crossed, Chris the Cuckoo (tagged in 2011) will arrive back. You can follow the Cuckoos here as they complete their journeys. As far as rarities go, I’m hoping for a Purple Heron, or Little Bittern on my local patch.