StonechatThe winter held its iron grip until about the 10th of March when a welcome change to mild weather eventually cleared the path for spring. Since last time around the local population of Whooper Swans has halved while the Little Grebe is hanging on.

The year´s first Eurasian Oystercatchers were noted on the 9th and the flock of Purple Sandpipers is still in the south. Of birds with particularly sharp eyesight White-tailed Eagle, Common Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon were seen during the month.

On the 14th about one hundred large gulls migrated north in a strong NW. Among these apparently non-local gulls there was also a young Glaucous Gull, a species that has turned remarkably scarce on Utsira the last few years.

A returning event each year in March is the mass occurrence of Common Blackbirds; this always happen in a moderate to heavy SW with interspersed showers and the numbers are always in their hundreds. The tradition was followed up also this year but the numbers were low, only about 175 birds on the 17th. Is this the first sign of the consequences of the harsh winter in Europe including the British Isles?

More reminders of spring arrived on the 19th and 20th in the form of Pied Wagtails and Eurasian Stonechat. Seven Yellowhammers on the 22nd was a high tally for Utsira. The year´s first Common Chiffchaff came on the 24th. Next day, in a moderate SE and light rain, the following arrived: 40 Greylag Geese, one Common Goldeneye, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, one Grey Wagtail, two White Wagtails, five Pied Wagtails, five Dunnocks, two Stonechats, seven Northern Wheatears, one Mistle Thrush, ten Chiffchaffs, two Eurasian Tree Sparrows and two Yellowhammers, of which the second last were the most noteworthy. In addition a White-tailed Eagle and a living Eurasian Woodcock were seen.

The noticeable migration continued on the 26th with a Black Redstart and on the 27th with a Hawfinch. Rain, sleet and wind hampered birding the last few days of March, however, a couple of new Black Redstarts and the first European Golden Plover and Common Linnet of the year found the way out. On the last day of the month a Stock Dove, 13 Mistle Thrushes and a Carrion Crow showed up, the last one the first in over six months.

White-tailed Eagle
Photo: Sveinung Larsen