Buff-breasted Sandpiper by Joe Pender
Mid to late September saw two hurricanes sweep across the Atlantic, bringing North American waders and landbirds with them, a flock of 26 Buff-breasted Sandpipers gathered at Tacumshin, Wexford, on the 27th, whilst on the Isle of Scilly an early Red-eyed Vireo was joined by Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-white Warbler and Baltimore Oriole.
Red-eyed Vireo by Joe Pender
After the storm came the calm, and with high pressure stretching all the way from the UK to North Africa, and the resulting light winds during early October, our departing summer visitors were provided with ideal conditions to move. Large numbers of hirundines, warblers, finches, chats and flycatchers were reported at coastal watchpoints, with records being broken at many sites. By the 4th 76,000 Meadow Pipits had been counted flying south at Spurn Point.
Short-eared Owl by Mark R Taylor
As September started, October finished, with some mouth-watering rarities from the east and west being found. It all kicked off on the 1st when Britain’s fourth Siberian Blue Robin was found dead on Foula, Shetland. The rest of the month saw the second Eastern-crowned Warbler, second Rufous-tailed Robin, fifth Ovenbird, the ninth Siberian Rubythroat and ninth and tenth Scarlet Tanager.
Barnacle Goose by Jill Pakenham
As October gave way to November, geese became the highlight as Pink-footed, Greylag, White-fronted, Tundra Bean, Barnacle and Brent geese arrived in force, check out the BTO identification workshop for tips on how to separate grey geese in flight Waxwings provided the first hint of what might turn out to be another Waxwing winter; around two to three hundred arrived in early November.
The unseasonable temperatures may well have contributed to an impressive array of summer migrants lingering into November. Swallows, House Martins, two or three Redstarts, a Pied Flycatcher, a Nightingale, several Lesser and Common Whitethroats, at least half-a-dozen Willow Warblers, good numbers of Wheatears, and around thirty records of Swift, both Common and the much rarer Pallid were all still here.
As for the rarities, they keep coming too. The last week has seen Blackpoll Warbler, Greater Yellowlegs, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, and at the time of writing, there is a Veery on the island of Muck, Highland.
Bewick's Swans by Andy Mason
This week sees the 10th Conference of Parties of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), in Bergen. Populations of long-distance migratory landbirds are rapidly declining in the African-Eurasian flyway. Between 1995 and 2008, the populations of four summer-visiting birds declined by more than half, Turtle Dove(–70%); Wood Warbler(–61%); Nightingale(–53%); and Yellow Wagtail(–52%), and during the last twenty-five years we have lost over half of our breeding Cuckoos too. For more on what the BTO is doing in Africa and it’s work on Cuckoos click on the links.