Lots has been happening amongst our more familiar species too. All our satellite-tagged Cuckoos have departed, with several already south of the Sahara! Some juvenile Cuckoos will still be in the country but the vast majority of these are also expected to leave in the next couple of weeks. (Common) Swift numbers are starting to drop off too, though as of last week they were still being recorded on about 30% of BirdTrack complete lists.
Arctic-breeding waders, restricted as they are to a short breeding season, are already heading south again. Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint and Spotted Redshank are amongst the many wader species that can be encountered at this time of year, and certainly spice up late summer birding trips.
|Some Spotted Redshank retain their breeding finery into early August.|
In some years, July sees an influx of Common Crossbill, presumably involving a high proportion of Scandinavian-bred birds. This July certainly lived up to its (cross)billing, as the BirdTrack reporting rate below shows. Furthermore, it wasn't just the more familiar Common Crossbill that arrived but also unusually large numbers of their much rarer cousin, Two-barred Crossbill. This species breeds in Scandinavia and eastwards, lending weight to the suggestion of a Scandinavian origin to these influxes. The geographic spread of the Two-barred Crossbill arrival was noteworthy: whilst influxes are often confined to or at least concentrated on the Shetland and Orkney islands, this year's arrival featured multiple records down the English east coast, from Spurn to East Anglia. 4 birds even had the good grace to spend a few days less than 15 minutes' drive from the Nunnery, providing a nice lunchtime distraction for many BTO staff members!
|The Common Crossbill influx as reflected in the BirdTrack reporting rate.|
A round-up of migration activity in early August wouldn't be complete without a mention of the seabirds passing through British and Irish waters at this time of year. Whilst southern Ireland has had the lions share of goodies (including up to 3 individual Fea's Petrel in one day, plus an even rarer Bulwer's Petrel), counts of several thousand Manx Shearwater have already been recorded from southwest Cornwall on several dates. Whilst this species breeds on offshore islands in Britain and Ireland, some of the other species already logged by seawatchers in the southwest have come from much further afield. At the end of July I was lucky enough to see a scarce Great Shearwater whilst on a 'pelagic' (a boat trip in search of pelagic seabirds). This species breeds no nearer than the island of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic, one of only a very few species to migrate north to winter in the North Atlantic.
|'My' Great Shearwater, a few miles south of Land's End.|