The weather conditions finally changed for the better, allowing migrants birds that were held-up further south to begin making their way north again, and they did! Ring Ouzel lead the way with over 500 birds being reported from the south coast to Northumberland.
Grasshopper Warbler by Amy Lewis
Willow Warblers piled in, over 300 arrived at Hengistbury Head, Dorset, on the 13th. Portland, also in Dorset, counted 500 on the same day. A few Sedge, Reed and Grasshopper Warblers arrived, along with a small number of Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat. Swallows and House Martins are also back in good numbers and a few Swifts have also been seen. Yellow Wagtails and Tree Pipits, Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers arrived bang on cue but although Blackcaps are now around in good numbers the main arrival is around a week later than the norm.
Pied Flycatcher by Edmund Fellowes
One of our latest summer migrants to arrive back is the Nightjar, sometimes the first birds are not seen until early May, so, one flushed from the car park at Dungeness, Kent on 12 April is very early. The first Nightingales have already taken up territories in some areas and are in full song and Cuckoos have been heard as far northern England. Four of the BTO satellite tagged Cuckoos are now back in Europe, one is in south west France and the other three birds are in southern Spain. Follow them as they make their way back to the UK here.
The warm southerly airflow that opened the floodgates also brought a number of Mediterranean overshoots with it, most notably Hoopoes, just under a hundred have been reported, mostly from southern counties, with at least eighteen present on the Isle of Scilly alone. At least three birds reached Scotland. Wrynecks were also well represented, with at least thirty birds found. A couple of Woodchat Shrikes, Alpine Swifts and single Great Spotted Cuckoo, Scops Owl and Bluethroat, all added to the continental flavour but all of these were eclipsed by Britain’s second ever Great Blue Heron, found at the exact location of Britain’s first; Lower Moors, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly, eight years earlier.
Bluethroat by Edmund Fellowes
So, what can we expect during the next week?
High pressure and relatively light easterly winds are forecast for most of next week which should allow more migrants to move and we should see the number of many of our common summer visitors grow. On the rarity/scarcity front we might see a slightly different mix bringing a bit of an eastern flavour with it. Red-footed Falcon, one or two more Bluethroats and a Pallid Harrier or two could be on the cards.