BTO migration blog

Spring and autumn are exciting times for anyone who watches birds. Here on this blog we will make predictions about when to expect migrant arrivals and departures, so that you know when and where to see these well-travelled birds.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

19th – 25th September

As predicted, the north and north westerly airflow of the last week produced an arrival of Pink-footed Geese and Whooper Swans to the UK, along with a few Grey Phalaropes and a distinct movement/arrival of Wigeon. The same winds that brought the geese and swans here were probably also responsible for the arrival of Lapland Buntings, with birds being seen from the northern isles to Scilly. Perhaps indicating a late breeding season, Swifts continued to trickle out of the UK while Swallows and martins are beginning to move in force. With winds becoming lighter towards the end of the week Meadow Pipit migration began to ramp up too.

Meadow Pipit BirdTrack reporting rate

Whilst the influence of hurricane Dorian wasn’t felt immediately last week the arrival of several North American waders this week showed it did have an effect, several Semi-palmated, White-rumped and Buff-breasted Sandpipers were found but it was the double figures of American Golden Plover that stole the show, at least fifteen were found. There was also a small arrival of Long-billed Dowitchers, but the star billing of the Dorian effect has to go to the Common Nighthawk that was found in Argyll.

Species Focus
Lapland Bunting is a scarce passage and winter migrant to the UK, typically arriving here towards the end of September. It is one of the most abundant and widespread arctic passerines, breeding from southern Norway across Siberia to the Bering Sea and from Alaska east across Canada to west and southeast Greenland. Most winters between 200 and 500 are typical in the UK but in some winters many more are found, mostly in saltmarsh or coastal fields but not exclusively, with birds often found far inland in similar habitat.
The dry, rolling ‘tiddlip-tew’ flight call, uttered on take-off or whilst flying over, is often the first sign of a Lapland Bunting but when located on the ground it is a very distinctive bird, showing an obvious chestnut nape, dark, spotted upper breast on clean white underparts, and a black-framed pale cheek below a broad supercilium flaring behind the eye. With a good showing already this autumn, it might be one to look out for this winter.

Lapland Bunting BirdTrack reporting rate

Weather for the week ahead

During the weekend the country will mostly be sat in a southeast and southerly airflow, but as the week progress the winds in the south are going to swing to the southwest and in the north remain in the east, at times coming straight out of Scandinavia.

Yellow-browed Warbler by Andy Mason

Over the next couple of days there ought to be a mass exodus of Swallows and House Martins, taking advantage of the relatively light winds and warm temperatures as a result of a high-pressure system centred to the south and east of us. There is a low pressure system centred in the Atlantic to the south of Greenland and Iceland that may well bring a few more North American waders to Ireland’s shores, and who knows? Maybe the first Red-eyed Vireo of the autumn.  Enjoying a week of easterly airflow the northern isles ought to shine, with the first push of Yellow-browed Warblers, along with a few Common Rosefinches and maybe something much rarer like a Collared Flycatcher in the offing. With Pallid Harrier being a scarce migrant these days we could expect a few of these to be found during the next week. The warm southerly winds might also bring the odd Hoopoe, Alpine Swift, Red-rumped Swallow and Red-backed and Woodchat Shrike to southern Britain.

Mid to late September is a time for finches to start moving with Linnet being the herald of this, and we should also see a distinct increase in the numbers of Wigeon, Teal and Red-throated Divers on the move. The easterly airflow should bring the first Dark-bellied Brent Geese to many sites along the east and south coast. Mid-September to mid-October is when migration peaks and we will be keeping a very close eye on the weather forecast during the next few weeks to help us keep ahead of the game.

Paul Stancliffe & Scott Mayson

Thursday, 12 September 2019

12th -18th September

The past week has certainly felt a bit more autumnal with a definite chill in the air first thing in the morning and ever-shortening days as we slowly move towards the autumn equinox. Migration for many species slowed with the usual suspects for this time of year either missing or only in low numbers. Wrynecks, for example, were very thin on the ground with only a smattering of birds across the UK, with a distinct bias to the south and east. Commoner migrants such Redstart, Whinchats, Pied Flycatchers, and Spotted Flycatchers, as well as scarce migrants like Red-backed Shrike, and Barred Warbler all, saw a dip in their reporting rates this week as the northerly winds of the weekend gave way to lighter winds of a westerly bias, in effect stalling migration.

BirdTrack reporting rate graph for Whinchat showing a drop in reporting rate most
probably linked with unfavourable migration conditions

The effects of ex-hurricane Dorian weren't really felt as it passed to the north of the UK on the 11th September with a band of rain crossing the country being the only indication it had hit us. Perhaps it will be the early part of this week that species such as Baird's, Semipalmated and Pectoral Sandpiper and American Golden Plover turn up in good numbers and maybe something rarer like Yellow Warbler or Solitary Sandpiper?

The continued westerly airflow in the coming week means it is difficult to predict the intensity of migration and the species involved but the coming week is the peak migration time for species like Gannets, Guillemots and Razorbills which will also be heading south away from their breeding cliffs to winter off north-western Africa and the Mediterranean in the case of Gannet and the North Atlantic and the North Sea for Guillemot and Razorbill. Whilst coastal sites are best for these species any strong onshore winds can result in some, especially young birds, turning up on inland water bodies with Gannets even being seen flying down motorways.
Coming from Iceland and Greenland it is hardly surprising that the first Pink-footed Geese of the winter turned up last week on the northerly and north-westerly airflow, even though they are a week or so ahead of the historical average from BirdTrack data. Small flocks were seen on Fair Isle, the east coast of Scotland and North Norfolk, and with more, if the same weather forecast next week we could see more arriving along with the first Whopper Swans of the autumn. The majority of the world's population of Pink-footed Geese (estimated at around 225,000 birds) winter in the UK, in Scotland and Norfolk.

BirdTrack reporting rate for Pink-footed Goose showing the earlier than normal arrival last week.

These aren't the only wildfowl arriving to winter in the UK, Wigeon and Pintail numbers will start to build in the coming weeks as birds arrive from Northern Europe and Russia to take advantage of the relative warmth of UK winters.
Any strong westerlies at this time of year could also produce Grey Phalarope, this species spends the winter at sea but can be blown close to shore or even inland given the right conditions and can stay for a few days, entertaining the crowds with their mesmerising feeding technique which involves spinning around on the water to pick off insects pulled to the surface.

Species focus

Wheatears for many people signify the start of spring as they are one of the first summer migrants to reach the UK, but autumn can also produce large falls of this much-loved passerine. Wheatears of the race oenanthe bred in the UK but many of the Wheatears seen at this time of year will be of the Greenland race, leucorchoa, which undertake one of the longest transoceanic migrations, from their breeding grounds in Greenland and northeast Canada to their wintering grounds just south of the Sahara. It is believed that many individuals fly non-stop from Greenland to Britain and Ireland and other parts of Europe. These Greenland birds are slightly stockier, longer-legged and longer winged than their European counterparts and tend to stay around for a few days as they fatten up before continuing their southward migration.

Wheatear -Photo by Allan Drewitt

BirdTrack reporting rate for Wheatear showing the autumn peak in mid-September.

Weather for the week ahead.

The week ahead promises to deliver a mixed bag of weather with the wind direction seemingly changing from day-to-day. High-pressure over the southern half of the UK over the weekend and the resultant light winds should help those migrant departing out shores- swallows and martins ought to feature in visible migration counts and warblers, Reed, Sedge ad Willow, along with Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat, should be a feature amongst grounded migrants. Both Meadow Pipit and Grey Wagtail also take advantage of these lighter winds and a steady stream of these is often a feature of clear autumn mornings.
With a stronger northerly wind direction forecast for the middle of next week keep an eye on the sea for Great Skuas which can often be seen harrying the southbound Gannets and larger gulls.

Grey Wagtail - Photo John Dunn

Scott Mayson and Paul Stancliffe

Thursday, 5 September 2019

5th -11th September

It’s been 3 weeks since the last migration blog and a lot can happen during that time,
especially when birds are departing for the coming winter months. During the next couple
of weeks we will be updating the blog on a weekly basis to bring you the most up to date
news of what is on the move, what to expect in the coming week (based on the weather
forecast and the time of year) and a few predictions of what rare and scarce species
may turn up, so a little of something for everyone.
Last month we started the blog with a follow up on the Two-barred Crossbill influx that
occurred mainly on the Shetland isles. The number of birds being reported fell away
towards the end of the month and, for now, seems to have come to an end with only the
odd single bird being reported.
We also highlighted  Aquatic Warbler in the last blog and since it was published single
Aquatic Warblers have been seen in Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Powys and Cornwall,
making it a good autumn so far for this species, let’s see what the next few weeks bring.
The past week has been particularly good for Pied Flycatchers with birds reported across
the country with a particular bias to the south and east coasts, which is to be expected for
a species that will be heading towards France and Spain on their southward migration.

BirdTrack reporting rate graph for Pied Flycatcher showing the spike in
reports in late August compared with the historical average

So what should we be looking out for in the coming week? The weather patterns at
the moment show a northeasterly airflow over the weekend which could result in
good numbers of Wrynecks, Barred Warblers, Whinchats and Red-backed Shrikes. East
coast locations will give you the best chance of seeing one of these species and with
the Spurn migration festival taking place this weekend why not go along and join one of
the guided walks? ( Scarce species seen at this time of
year include Citrine Wagtail, Booted, Arctic and Bonelli’s Warbler, Lesser Grey Shrike and
Tawny Pipit, all of which have a peak reporting rate in early September.
Whilst the numbers of some waders like Wood, Green and Common Sandpiper fall
away for Bar-tailed Godwit the early part of September is when numbers in the
UK peak.  Having bred in the Arctic Circle from Lapland east to Taymyr in Russia
birds head to the UK to either winter here or use it as a stopover before heading
onwards to West Africa. Bar-tailed Godwits tend to prefer estuaries and saltwater
habitats more than their freshwater loving Black-tailed cousins but that doesn’t mean
they don’t turn up away from the coast. Reservoirs can host small flocks of Bar-tailed
Godwits and they can often appear alongside Whimbrels as they also pass through the UK.

Bar-tailed Godwit - some will still be in breeding plumage at this time of year. Photo Nick Clayton.

So far it has been a quiet year for seabirds such as Cory’s and Great Shearwater, but as
we progress into September there is still time to find these amongst the southbound
Manx Shearwaters. Balearic Shearwater is a species marked as critically
endangered on the IUCN European Red List of species but September is the best
month of the year to see them, with hotspots including Portland Bill, Portgwarra and
Berry Head. Some birds reach the North Sea and places like Flamborough Head, Spurn
and Sheringham are all worth a look from given the right conditions. Leach’s Petrel is
another seabird to have a peak in their reporting rate during September with the west
coasts being particularly productive following westerlies brought on by low-pressure
weather systems rattling across the Atlantic. You can find a video on how to separate
Leach’s Petrel from the commoner Storm-petrel here.
Two seabirds to look out for this week, particularly with westerly winds forecast, are Fulmar and Sooty Shearwater. Right now both are on the move but for very different reasons, and with very different destinations. The Fulmars on the move will be birds dispersing away from their breeding sites. It is thought that most of them will not go very far, staying in the North Atlantic, periodically visiting nesting cliffs or prospecting possible nest sites for the future. However, the Sooty Shearwaters are on their spring migration, moving through the North Atlantic on their way to their natal islands further south for the forthcoming breeding season, which takes place during our winter. For some, this will involve a flight of over 10,000km (6,500 miles).

Sooty Shearwater - Photo by Joe Pender

Species focus

Ortolan Bunting is a scarce visitor to the UK with the majority of sightings occurring in
September, but like many species, the number of records has steadily been falling each
year. During the period 1968-1969, a total of 87 birds were noted but in the period
2010-2016 only 33 birds were seen. In recent years however there has been an upturn in
records, with 74 reported in 2016, and this has in no short way been the result of
increased sound-recording of nocturnal migrants, or nocmig which accounted for 30 of
the 74 records. More research needs to be done to see how widespread and regular this
nocturnal movement of Ortolan Buntings is but it at least shows they are using the UK
during their migration and possibly in greater numbers than the reports of birds seen
during the day may indicate. 
Sonogram of Ortolan Bunting call - Nick Moran

Weather for the week ahead.

The weekend's weather looks to be set for north westerlies along the North Sea coasts and a mixture of north westerlies and westerlies for the rest of Britain and Ireland. Seawatching during this period from any west or east coast location could produce Leach's Petrel, Skuas, Manx and Sooty Shearwaters, and Guillemot and Razorbills. The rest of the week is dominated by westerly airflows with the remnants of hurricane Dorian due to hit the top of Scotland and the Northern Isles from mid-week. This westerly bias to the wind direction could result in Nearctic waders arriving with species like Buff-breasted, Bairds, Semipalmated and Pectoral Sandpipers the most likely species to occur.

Scott Mayson and Paul Stancliffe

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Migration moves up a gear.

Looking back at the last migration blog we highlighted the small influx of Two-barred Crossbills that was happening on the Shetland isles. The influx slowed towards the end of July with numbers steadily dropping off, but recently a few more birds have been reported including some from the Outer Hebrides indicating that these birds may be continuing to move around. A check of your nearest coniferous woodland could be worthwhile!
During the last weeks of July and early August, both Wood and Green Sandpipers were reported above their historical averages with the most likely explanation for this being easterly winds across the Baltic and the North Sea on 27th/28th July pushing birds across to the UK where they hit a belt of rain that straddled the country and forced them down. A video showing how to identify Wood and Green Sandpipers can be found here.

BirdTrack reporting rate graphs showing the spike in both
Green and Wood Sandpiper reports in late July/early August

As the year slowly ebbs from late summer into early autumn migration steps up a gear and the range of species and the number of birds on the move increases. August is the month for waders and seabirds, but some passerines also have their peak autumn migration at this time of the year.
Adult waders, whose numbers began to build in July will be joined by this year young leaving their northern breeding grounds for the very first time. Numbers of Knot, Redshank and Dunlin increase during the month and impressive counts of these species can be recorded at favoured sites. Towards the end of the month they will be joined by smaller numbers of Wood Sandpipers, Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints, many of which will be in fresh juvenile plumage. Of course, it is always worth searching amongst these for rarer waders – such as Pectoral, Semipalmated, Baird’s and White-rumped Sandpipers that can arrive here from America. Weather systems arriving from across the Atlantic, often the remnants of a hurricane or severe storms, can result in good numbers of these rarer species appearing on our shores. Easterly winds could also produce something rarer such as Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint or dare we dream of another Little Curlew, the only 2 British records of this species have both occurred in August.

Juvenile Little Stint - photo by Vincenzo Iacovon

Seabirds are also on the move this month, some of them heading back to the southern hemisphere for the forthcoming breeding season, and now is a great time to look out for Cory’s and Great Shearwaters, and Wilson’s Petrel. Invariably headlands in the southwest are the place to be for these oceanic wanderers and again Atlantic depressions with their associated strong winds can force large numbers of these species closer inshore. Manx Shearwaters are at their highest reporting rate in August as the adults head to winter off the coast of Brazil leaving the young to fend for themselves and make the journey unassisted. Numbers of scarcer species including Sabine’s Gull and Long-tailed Skuas increase markedly at this time of the year and both are a desirable species for many sea watchers. An identification video on skuas can be found here.

Sabine's Gull - photo by Moss Taylor

Whilst Common and Arctic Terns will be becoming less frequently reported during the month, both Black Terns and Roseate Terns have a peak in their respective reporting rates in August. Black Terns can turn up almost anywhere from reservoirs to coastal sites and often associate with Little Gulls. This small tern has a distinctive dipping feeding flight as they pick insects from or just above the water and it is worth checking any likely locations after a heavy thunderstorm to see if any have dropped in. Roseate Terns, on the other hand, are almost exclusively found at coastal sites, the very clean white upperparts and dark bill of adult birds pick them out from both Common and Arctic Terns, whilst young birds have the scalloped plumage reminiscent of juvenile Sandwich Terns.

Black Tern - photo by Graham Catley

It’s not all about waders and seabirds through – August is probably the best month to go in search of Aquatic Warbler in Britain, though it is no easy task. This species has a very varied status in the UK, once it was an extremely rare bird but following some concentrated ringing, particularly around reedbeds in the south and southwest, annual totals began to rocket with the period between 1972-1977 being the golden era with 1976 producing a record 88 individuals. Hotspots included Radipole and Marazion marshes, indeed Devon has 107 records and Cornwall 154. Numbers then fell away in the ’80s and 90’s interspersed with a few good years, but in the last 10 years, annual figures have struggled to reach double figures with a declining population in their European breeding grounds of Eastern Poland the most likely cause.

Aquatic Warbler - photo by Dawn Balmer

Tree Pipit, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Willow Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher all have an autumn peak in reporting rates in August. The reporting rates for Whinchat also typically beings to increase throughout the month with birds turning up inland and at coastal watchpoints, sometimes in small groups. Some scarcer passerines to look out for during the month include Greenish Warbler and Icterine Warbler, both have a similar breeding range of northeastern Europe and varying numbers occur in the UK each autumn particularly after spells of easterlies. Even rarer,  Yellow Warbler a very rare American vagrant that has been recorded in the UK during August on 5 occasions with the last 2 records both occurring last year at Portland, Dorset and Mizen Head, Cork.
BirdTrack reporting rate for Pied Flycatcher showing
 a peak in autumn migration in August.

Pied Flycatcher, autumn is when many birdwatchers see this
species away from their traditional breeding areas.

By the end of the month, Swifts will become thin on the ground as they leave the UK on their long journey south to the Congo Basin and the first finch flocks will begin to feature in visible migration counts.
Don’t forget the Spurn Migration Festival, held over the weekend of 6-8th September – celebrating bird migration through walks, talks, and workshops on and around the Spurn Peninsula, East Yorkshire.

Scott Mayson and Paul Stancliffe


Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Autumn migration gets underway

There has been a lot of chatter both on social media and elsewhere that this has been a poor spring for some of our most loved summer migrants, particularly Swifts, Swallows and House Martins. Looking at the BirdTrack reporting rate graphs for these three species, all of them were reported at lower levels compared to their historical averages. Swallows arrived bang on time, whilst House Martins initially appeared to be arriving earlier but then dropped below the historical average and Swifts were around 1-2 weeks late. A cold northeasterly airflow could explain the drop in House Martin arrival in week 15 (WC 08/04/2019) which is also noticeable on the Swallow plot. The delay in arrival for Swift is also most likely due to an easterly airflow during week 16, which then turned to a southerly airflow during week 17 and in turn produced an upsurge in Swift sightings.

We will have to wait until the publication of 2019 BBS (Breeding Bird Survey) report in May 2020 before we can asses any population changes for these three species.

Back to the here and now, July migration is headlined by waders such as Spotted Redshank, and Green Sandpipers, which are amongst the first to head back. The females of both species are the first to depart as they leave the males to incubate the eggs and raise the young. The males and young of both species migrate later and start to appear in late July and early August. Green Sandpipers can turn up anywhere from saltwater lagoons on the coast to small vegetated ponds inland, their distinctive white rump in flight gives the impression of a large House Martin, and a high pitched three-note whistle is often given during flight. See the Green Sandpiper identification video for more.

Green Sandpiper - Vic Froome

Storm Petrels breed at a few locations in the UK, mainly on Scottish Islands and a few Islands off the coast of Wales, South West England and the west coast of Ireland. In July however, they are often recorded away from these traditional breeding areas and it is a long-held belief that these relate to ‘Wanderers’, non-breeding or failed breeders that are looking for potential new breeding areas. These movements can be rapid and over large distances, as illustrated by a bird ringed in Norway that was caught 613km away in North Yorkshire the very next day.

NOS Adult 26-07-2002 Lindesnes Fyr, Lindesnes:57°58'N 7°3'E(Vest-Agder) Norway

E760828 Caught by ringer 27-07-2002 Upgang, Whitby:54°29'N 0°38'W(North Yorkshire)   613km  SW  0y 0m 1d

Storm Petrel - Joe Pender

For more, please visit the BTO Storm petrel identification video

All of the BTO satellite tagged Cuckoos have now left the UK and have reached their first stopover sites in southern Europe. This year BTO scientists are following 11 satellite-tagged Cuckoos as they make their way to central Africa. Currently four of them are in France, six in Spain and one in Croatia, unfortunately, a twelfth bird was killed flying into a window at Dungeness. Having moved from Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, this bird, named Robinson, was well on its way south. Migration is full of hazards. Follow the Cuckoos as they undertake their huge southward journeys at

During the last couple of weeks there has been a large arrival of Painted Lady butterflies into the UK off the back of warm south and southeasterly airflow, two birds almost certainly arrived on the same weather system, the Little Bustard in Gloucestershire and the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater in Highland - if the Painted Lady invasion continues as the weather begins to warm again next week, we might be in for a summer mega.

What to look out for during the rest of July.

At this time of year, south westerlies can produce Cory's Shearwaters and Balearic Shearwaters, with headlands in the south-west the best place to sea watch from. A pelagic trip from the Isles of Scilly could result in sightings of the once mythical Wilson's Petrel.

Together with the more expected Green, Common and Wood Sandpipers, other vagrant wader species can often be found in late July with Terek, White-rumped, Pectoral and Buff-breasted Sandpipers being the most likely.

Other species on the move in late July include Quail, Little Gull, Black Tern,  and Common Scoter, with the latter species often turning up on inland reservoirs so keep an eye out for these.

Little Gull - Graham Catley

At the moment there is also a small influx of Two-barred and Common Crossbills happening, mainly on the Shetland Isles. The last influx was July 2017 and was confined to Shetland Isles with the exception of a single female on the Isle of May. In  2013 the influx was more widespread with birds scattered across the UK, will the same happen this year? A few Common Crossbills have been seen as far south as the Isles of Scilly, so it may be worth checking your nearest coniferous woodland. Larch cones are the favourite of Two-barred.

A Sooty Tern seen this year on the 24th June along the Yorkshire coast was subsequently seen again on the 9th July and is probably the bird from last year that was first seen on 7th July 2018 disappearing between  9th-19th July before relocating to Ythan Estuary where it stayed from 21st July -5th August. Perhaps it will head back there again this year? 

Friday, 16 November 2018

A Swift arrival

The migration highlight in the last two weeks was an unexpected arrival of Swifts from 3 November onwards, with three species noted around the country. While there were a handful of Common Swifts reported, the majority of sightings involved the much rarer Pallid Swift, with over 30 and perhaps as many as 50 individuals observed.

BirdTrack reporting rate for Pallid Swift

Pallid Swift is seen annually in Britain in small numbers, influxes involving more than 10 birds had previously occurred only in 1999 (11 records), 2001 (12) and 2004 (15). The majority of the sightings came from the east coast, with only a handful from south coast counties and inland sites. Besides Britain, one was seen briefly in Ireland and up to 20 Pallid Swifts were also noted in the Netherlands, where there had only been 12 records previously.

Pallid Swift by Martin Cade
A potential reason for the influx may be that unusually for European swifts, Pallid Swift is double brooded, with the last brood fledging in October. Additionally, the sustained southerly winds throughout early November may have pushed birds northwards. The presence of a Little Swift at Hartlepool, Durham joining a Pallid Swift already present is intriguing as the nearest breeding grounds are along the southern Mediterranean coast. Did the Pallid Swifts in this influx come from North Africa rather than Iberia or the eastern Mediterranean?

Little Swift by Damian Money
The week ahead looks potentially quite interesting, with high pressure building over western Russia and Scandinavia over the weekend. This could potentially bring a spell of colder weather from the middle of next week onwards, with the easterly winds likely to bring more winter thrushes and wildfowl amongst others to our shores. It is getting a bit late in the season for most rarities by this stage, but given the origin of the winds, a Desert Wheatear, or perhaps even a Desert Warbler, seem like potential arrivals.

Stephen McAvoy

Friday, 2 November 2018

Skuas on the move

While not making for the most pleasant observation conditions, strong north to northeasterly winds in late autumn can produce good movements of seabirds and other migrants along the east coast of Britain. The weather last weekend fitted this exact pattern and those who braved the cold, biting wind were not disappointed.

Pomarine Skua by Joe Pender

The most eye catching spectacle was the passage of Pomarine Skuas with several sites logging day totals of more than 100 birds. Amongst the highest counts were 150+ off Flamborough, East Yorksire, 180+ off Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire and 200+ moving south past Spurn, East Yorkshire. The latter represents a new day count record for the species at the site. However, these counts were eclipsed by the over 500 logged passing Hornsea, East Yorkshire. The BirdTrack reporting rate graph clearly shows last weekend’s movement

The strong winds brought with them a wide variety of other seabirds, including the first large movement of Little Auks. Several sites registered double figure counts, with a high count of over 150 passing Flamborough. Divers and shearwaters were also noted, including a handful of White-billed Divers. The rarest seabird logged was probably the King Eider moving along the North Norfolk coast over the weekend and early last week.

For passerine migrants, there were good counts logged for Redwing and Fieldfare arriving in off the North Sea, while large flocks of Starlings were also noted. As in the previous week, a few flocks of Waxwings were noted moving west with the thrushes and Starlings - it is well worth keeping an eye on any berry rich hawthorns in the coming weeks!

A common theme in the last weeks has been a rapid switch of wind directions, and this weekend is no exception. After the spell of northerlies in recent days, the prevailing wind moves back to a south – southeasterly direction as the remnants of Hurricane Oscar pass northeast off the coast of Ireland and Scotland. Having stayed well out in the Atlantic in the last week, it is unlikely that this weather system will bring any new arrivals of North American origin, though potentially the first white-winged gulls could arrive, and rarer gulls are always a possibility, including Laughing or Franklin’s Gull.

Stephen McAvoy