Birding in April has been a bit of a non-event for me unfortunately. Whenever I have had a bit of time for birding the weather was not great. Seen a few nice birds ( Garganey, Cattle Egrets etc that have hung around ) but Start Point, my favourite migration watch point, has been fairly blown out the few times I ventured out there. A Red Kite moving through early last Saturday morning was the best I've seen there. Portland Bill has had some good falls ( just 90 Kms across Lyme Bay ) so we have missed out a little so far this spring. All is not lost however and early May can witness big falls if all the necessary bits fall into place ( for Start Point light winds between SE-NE, not to strong to make it blown out, good cloud cover through the night with some overnight rain lessening to drizzle or nothing by dawn and conditions on the near continent conducive to encouraging the birds to set out in the first place). Time is running out though, once the first third of May has gone big arrivals of common passerine trans -Saharan migrants tend not to happen whatever the conditions, though a big rarity could arrive alone.
What could we expect in May ? Warm southerlies can produce overshooting rare european herons, raptors and terns through the month. Best month to find a major exotic like Bee-eater, especially late month, time will tell. Below is a flavour of what May has produced in the past.
Nothing to great 50 years ago this month, Spoonbill on the Kingsbridge Estuary most of the month and a Montagu's Harrier at Prawle on the 30th.
Strangest record a Whooper Swan , previously at Slapton in April and then on the Avon Estuary all month. Continuing a wintry theme a Long-tailed duck remained on Slapton Ley to the 15th. More spring like rarities were a male Little Bittern at Slapton on the 14th, Honey Buzzard through there on 18th and a Savi's Warbler singing there from 14th-21st. Also a Savi's present at South Milton Ley ringed on the 10th and then remaining all month. Savi's Warblers started to turn up regularly at Slapton and South Milton Leys in the early 70's to early 80's. It was thought they would colonise but sadly it never happened and they reverted back to being a big rarity. One Hoopoe reported in the month at Slapton Ley on the 30th.
Montagu's Harrier at Slapton Ley from 3rd-4th ( I seem to recall this female talon grappling with a Marsh Harrier in Ireland Bay one morning ), Blue-headed Wagtail at Soar on 5th, Purple Heron at Slapton Ley from 23rd-28th and around Prawle Point late month was a Quail and male Red-spotted Bluethroat on 25th and a Serin on 30th-31st.
A Cory's Shearwater flew west off Prawle Point on the 4th. More typical spring rarities included Woodchat Shrike at Prawle from 5th-9th with a Red-backed Shrike and Serin there on the 18th, the same date that 2 Bee-eaters spent a couple of hours on power lines behind the main road through West Alvington ( I missed them by 5 minutes ! ). A Blue- headed Wagtail was at Bolberry Down on 22nd.
Not a great month, a Glossy Ibis at Woodside Farm West Alvington first seen in April was still there on the first. Otherwise just a Blue-headed Wagtail at Slapton Ley on 9th and a Red-backed Shrike at Lincombe on the Kingsbridge Estuary on 23rd.