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, 24 October 2016

Still plenty of eastern promise

The low pressure system that crossed the UK during the latter part of this week looked like it might bring the run of easterlies to an end. However, with the high-pressure system forecast to linger over Scandinavia, the easterly winds will feature in the middle of this week at least.

A brief dally with westerly winds during mid-week produced some spectacular seabird movements along the west coast that included 2,433 Razorbills, 4,068 Kittiwakes, 898 Gannets, along with a few Arctic, Great and Pomarine Skuas past Bardsey, Gwynedd, on 18 October.

Kittiwakes by Martin Cade

As would be expected at this time of year, finches are still on the move, with Linnets and Goldfinches predominating. The first real movement of redpolls, Mealy and Lesser pretty much in equal parts, have also been a feature of the week, along with Brambling and to a lesser extent Chaffinches and Siskin.

Thrushes continue to pile in, although mainly Redwing and Fieldfare, we might have to wait until next week for Blackbirds to arrive in force.

The highlight of the week has been the arrival of several flocks of Tundra Bean Geese, in higher numbers than we would normally see and a little earlier too. Shorelark, another scarce Scandinavian winter visitor, have equally been noted in above average figures for recent years. Flocks of 28 of the latter have been noted in Lincolnshire and Norfolk for example.

Shorelark reporting rate on BirdTrack

Swallows and Wheatears continue to trickle south, but House Martin observations have fallen dramatically, with most birds now probably on their way to as yet unknown winter quarters.

Following on from sightings in Shetland and Yorkshire, several more Siberian Accentors were spotted in Britain. The bird in Easington, East Yorkshire drew large numbers of admirers with several thousand birders making the journey in the course of the Accentor's seven day stay.

The Easington Siberian Accentor by Andy Mason

Associated with the Siberian Accentors was a notable arrival of rare warblers and wheatears, in particular Dusky Warbler and Isabelline Wheatear. No less than seven Dusky Warblers were found at Spurn, East Yorkshire last week and five Isabelline Wheatears represent an above average return from a species seen only on 30 previous occasions in Britain and Ireland.

Reporting rate of Dusky Warbler on BirdTrack

After peaking at almost 8% of BirdTrack complete lists in early October, reports of Yellow-browed Warbler has dropped off in the last week and were logged on only 4% of lists this week. The equally diminutive Pallas's Warbler has partially filled this gap, being noted on just over 1% of complete lists.

Waxwing by Andy Mason

Finally, Waxwings are on the move across the North Sea, with small flocks reported from all along the east coast of Britain. Will this year see a repeat of the last good Waxwing winter in 2012/13?

Paul Stancliffe and Stephen McAvoy