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.



Thursday, 12 March 2015

They're here!

The first decent arrival of summer migrants arrived last weekend, on the wave of warm southerly airflow that the southern half of the country enjoyed. Over one hundred Sand Martins were reported, with a few birds making it as far north as Cheshire. Around half as many Wheatears with most being seen, rather unsurprisingly, in southern counties, a few did make it into Wales and at least one bird was seen in Northern Ireland. 

Sand Martin by Andy Mason

Other summer migrants arriving at the weekend included at least one Swallow, a couple of House Martins and Little Ringed Plovers, around a dozen Garganey and up to four Ospreys. The predicted Hoopoe didn’t show but there was a flavour of the Mediterranean with at least one, and possibly as many as three Alpine Swifts being reported, only one of these showed well, a bird that graced the skies over Wolverhampton on the 9th March.

Alpine Swift by Su Delve

Visible migration watchers also enjoyed some movement – A steady trickle of Meadow Pipits heading north was a feature of south coast watchpoints during the early part of the week, whilst northbound Pink-footed Geese dominated proceedings at east coast sites. West coast watchers were treated to some impressive auk movement, mostly Razorbills heading north. Check out the BTO ID video here.

Meadow Pipit by Nigel Clark


With stiff north easterly winds forecast for this weekend it will be quite different from last weekend – whilst a few southern migrants will still arrive most will struggle, however, that could all change during the early part of next week when the winds turn more southerly again. The east coast will be the place to be this weekend. More geese, divers and gulls should be on the move with the easterly wind pushing them close inshore, and wildfowl, Teal and Pintail could move in good numbers, it could also be the east coast’s turn to enjoy some auk passage. 

Once the winds turn southerly again we could see the first big arrival of Chiffchaff and more hirundines. On the rarity front and given the easterly winds and the fact that there have been a few March records before, Rustic Bunting could be on the cards, although later in the week something from the south is more likely.

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