14th April

There was certainly a bit of quality on offer amongst today's mix, with a Hoopoe in off the sea at the Bill kicking things off in exciting fashion; it proved to be the most active of migrants and although intercepted at regular intervals as it moved north it never settled for long and was last seen heading away over Priory Corner in the direction of the mainland. Those that went off in pursuit of it at the Bill had a real stroke of good fortune when they stumbled upon a Western Subalpine Warbler at Wallsend, where it remained for the rest of the day. After yesterday's excesses, migrant numbers generally dropped away; Wheatear proved to be an honourable exception, with 200 or more through at the Bill and reports of a good spread of them elsewhere, but variety rather than quantity was otherwise the rule. A Woodlark and 3 Siskins passed through overhead at the Bill, where hirundines arrived in their best numbers so far this spring. The sea was relatively quiet, with 5 Red-throated Divers, 3 Great Northern Divers and 2 Canada Geese as good as it got off the Bill.

The Subalpine Warbler was a real show-off at times during the morning although it became more furtive as the wind freshened up during the afternoon. Although most intensely coloured on the throat, the whole underparts were well-saturated and we had no hesitation in taking it to be a Western Subalpine: 

It looked at times in the field to have very plentiful amounts of white in the outer tail feathers but our video-still shows that this does accord with what would be expected on a Western Subalpine - the white on the penultimate feather looks to be pretty squared-off with no suggestion of a wedge of white extending back up the feather...

Age-wise, our perception was always of it having noticeably bleached brown wings which would strongly suggest it's a first-summer © Martin Cade: