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.



Friday, 4 May 2012


The floodgates open

As soon as the wind turned south-easterly and dropped they began to arrive in their hundreds and thousands. Many sites had their largest falls of the spring so far and some hinted at their largest falls ever, but what was sure was that the migrant floodgates opened at last.

As the week progressed the wind turned northerly but for the most part remained light, perfect conditions to observe visible migration. At Portland Bill, Dorset over 10,000 Swallows were estimated to have flown through on the 3 May, whilst in previous days there were at times too many to count.

On the Isles of Scilly, flocks of warblers, largely Blackcaps and Willow Warblers but also containing Garden Warblers and Common Whitethroats, were seemingly everywhere. This is reflected nicely in the BirdTrack reporting rate.

Common Whitethroat by Amy Lewis

With Swifts and Spotted Flycatchers also making it back, the first Nightjar won’t be too far behind them. Two of the BTO satellite tagged Cuckoo’s also took advantage of the weather and arrived back in the UK after spending the winter in the Congo Rainforest, for more information and to see their full migration routes.

Cuckoo by Steve Ashton

Southern overshoots have also been well represented. Five new Cattle Egrets arrived, along with the first Squacco Heron of the year, five Black Kites, three Short-toed Larks and at least seven Red-rumped Swallows. Whilst from the east a Citrine Wagtail and Red-breasted Flycatcher were found in Norfolk, and a Black-winged Pratincole arrived in Cheshire.

The wind is due to stay in the north-east and remain fairly light throughout the weekend, turning southerly on Monday, perfect conditions for further arrivals of common migrants and vagrants from the south and east. So if you haven’t heard a Cuckoo this weekend could be the time to get out and listen, and if you do hear one you can support the BTO Cuckoo project by texting a donation to CKOO12 £2/£5/£10 to 70070, and  if you’re out looking for vagrants, a Rock Thrush might just be on the cards.

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