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.



Monday, 14 January 2013

Taking flight


During late October and early November a huge number of Redwings, Fieldfares and Blackbirds arrived on the east coast of Britain. These quickly moved inland and spread out across the country. Take a walk in the countryside now and it is clear that many of these birds have moved on, moving even further south in search of a suitable wintering area, or more importantly a more reliable source of food, probably in western France and northern Iberia. The BTO Winter Thrushes survey is now focusing on birds seen during winter walks. Take part here.

Fieldfare by Jill Pakenham

Another example of this can be seen in the Waxwing numbers this winter. In November and early December there were around 5,000 birds here. Currently there are only around 1,500 in the country and there have been reports of birds seen leaving the Kent coast.

Waxwings by John Harding



Snow and ice brings difficulties for many more birds as their food becomes hidden or locked under frozen water surfaces. In these conditions Kingfishers and herons are known to move to the coast where the saline waters largely remain ice-free. Lapwings, Skylarks and Wood Pigeons movements at this time can be spectacular and these too will also leave the country if they have to. During prolonged periods of snow and ice on the near continent, Britain’s estuaries come into their own, offering a lifeline for many species of waders and waterfowl. As temperatures bite we could see an influx of Smew, Goldeneye and Tundra Bean Geese.


Smew by Edmund Fellowes

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