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.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Summer migrants set to arrive in force

Migrants have continued to trickle in during the last week but it has been slow. Most of our early arriving summer visitors are running two to three weeks behind, as can be seen in the BirdTrack reporting rate graphs for Chiffchaff , Sand Martin, Willow Warbler and Swallow. However, with a change in the weather other species have arrived bang on cue.

Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler all have an average arrival date around mid-April and all have been seen in the last few days. Large numbers of visible migrants have also been seen, largely comprising Meadow Pipit and Woodpigeon, 5000 of the former and 2000 of the latter were counted flying over Portland, Dorset on 9 April.

Despite the cold conditions and strong easterly winds, BirdTrack shows that the arrival of Ring Ouzel has been spot-on.  Conversely, it may come as no surprise that the classic winter thrushes, Redwing and Fieldfare, are late leaving.

Fieldfare by Edmund Fellowes

The average arrival date for Whinchat is the 17 April. We aren't aware of any in the country yet but we expect the first arrivals next week. We still need more help to monitor this species in Wales. Could you help with the second year of the Welsh Chat Survey?

Whinchat by Edmund Fellowes

Two more Cuckoos were reported this week, in East Sussex and Kent, and our first satellite tagged Cuckoo won’t be far behind. Chris is currently in southern central France but he could make his move for the UK any day now- read his blog here.

Woodchat Shrike by Ron Marshall

We should finally see the back of the cold easterly airflow this weekend and the forecast is looking good for southern migrants. By Saturday we should be enjoying warm winds from the south which will bring migrants that have been held up with them. This weekend has the potential to be one of the most exciting of the spring. Summer migrants will be able to make their final dash to their breeding grounds, and winter visitors may finally get an easy passage across the North Sea. With the winds coming from so far south I wouldn’t be surprised if the two Hoopoes reported in the last couple of days aren’t joined by more Mediterranean birds. Woodchat Shrike is always a favourite at this time of the year.

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