Westerly airflow and Atlantic storms have dominated the weather this week, as have birds that would be expected during these conditions. Leach’s Petrels have been seen in good numbers off north-western coasts, American waders, such as Buff-breasted Sandpiper, American Golden Plover, Baird’s Sandpiper and Wilson’s Phalarope have all been found, along with the second North American landbird of the autumn so far, a Baltimore Oriole on Shetland. Shetland also hosted the first North American landbird this autumn, a Black-and-white Warbler. The north and west have had the lion’s share of the action, which is not that surprising as the Atlantic storms have arrived to the north of the UK. What is a little more surprising is the arrival of birds from the east.
Yellow-browed Warbler by Joe Graham
Despite the almost continuous westerly airflow at least a dozen Yellow-browed Warblers arrived during the week and a couple of Arctic Warblers and a Little Bunting on the northern isles added to the eastern them. New Red-backed Shrikes and Wrynecks were also found but for rarity hunters, these were overshadowed by the Brown Shrike found in Hampshire on the 20th.
The strong westerlies disrupted migration a little but Meadow Pipits did move when conditions allowed, 5,700 were counted moving through Spurn on 17th. Bang on cue, 2,610 Pink-footed Geese also passed over the same site on the 18th, probably on their way to North Norfolk. Swallows and House Martins moved through in good numbers over the same couple of days.
The weather forecast for the weekend promises much of the same. A low will track across the Atlantic and will be stopped in its tracks just off the west coast of Ireland as it comes up against high pressure that extends from Eastern Europe all the way to Ireland. The perfect recipe for more east meets west birding, only this time the action could be much further south. I wouldn’t place any bets but American Redstart in the South west and a Bimaculated Lark in Norfolk would definitely fit the bill but Red-eyed Vireo and more Yellow-browed Warblers might be more likely.