Wednesday, 3 March 2010


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.


Newton Stringer said...

Hi Alan

I need some movement to pull me out of the winter blues !

Re GG shrikes.... That part of Lancs has a history of regular wintering birds, when I lived there I found 3 seperate birds in Bowland in one winter !

I also had a bird on the coast here in late April many years ago, my only ever spring GG Shrike .....

I wander around Newton every April now dreaming of getting GG shrike added to the old patch list.... .

Superb birds shrikes, love em !!

Time to pray to the shrike god....

alan tilmouth said...

Yes, never found one but had the Black Lough bird last Spring all to myself one cold clear morning last year and the combination of landscape, atmosphere and shrike brought me close to tears.

Crammy Birder said...

My moneys on an early Garganey like the ST.Mary's drake last year

alan tilmouth said...

A good bet Phil, five today, two in the south (Hants/Kent) but three at one site in Cheshire

Stewart said...

Never found a spring GGshrike but I've been lucky with three autumn birds at Holy Island, Warkworth and Druridge. Druridge was thge best. I was in my car one skiving lunch from work driving along to the road end at the pools. I stopped at the turning circle and gazed around when, not five yards away abird hopped from the ground onto a fence pose, facing me. Oh look, a Wheatear, thinks me. Until I refocused my eyes. A f'king GREAT GREY SHRIKE! So close I could see its bill bristles and its breast scalloping. Luckily it stayed for a while for other observers but none got the views I had :)