The current improvement in weather is sure to prompt some northward movement in some species and there are several early species that can enhance any birding day in March. I thought it might be worth highlighting one or two of these that can provide an early rush of adrenalin, particularly in the north where some of them are not as common.
Common Crane traditionally a species that begins to move north early, a large movement of this species was noted through the Dordogne area of France a few days ago. With the current weather pattern continuing to provide winds from the East then some arrivals from Europe are certain. The last three days have seen individuals or pairs in Bucks, Cumbria, East Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk & Somerset (source Birdguides). Large arable fields, floods or fields with feeding swans can all be attractive.
Great Grey Shrike whilst there are always a number of wintering birds, there will also be some on the move. Again the last few days have seen individuals turning up in more northerly sites such as Grindleton Fell in Lancashire and Welbourn in Lincolnshire (source Birdguides). Often individuals can be found in similar areas each year, clearfell in Kielder and Harwood always offers possibilities at this time of year although they are big areas so accept the chances of finding your own are never high.
Water Pipit & 'Scandanavian' Rock Pipit; after reading an excellent paper on the separation of winter Water Pipit and Rock Pipit produced by Mike Hodgson, supported by some very good and useful images on the NTBC website it's worth highlighting the obvious March peaks that Mike has shown from his analysis of historical data. March sees the peak of records for both species in Northumberland (and presumably other northern counties would reflect a similar trend).
Avocet; with the first returning birds reported from Teeside yesterday and others obviously on the move elsewhere, for example four at Burton Marsh, Cheshire today and three at Upton Warren, Worcestershire (source birdguides) one of our most enigmatic waders isn't hanging about when it comes to moving north. Still uncommon in Northumberland with only a handful of records each year if you're around at the coast look out for overshooting or exploring birds from further south.