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 26 March 2012

A taste of the Mediterranean

The weekend's predicted Great Spotted Cuckoo didn't turn up but there was a multiple arrival of Mediterranean overshoots. At least half-a-dozen Hoopoes were found, predictably all in the south-west, where there was also a very early Wryneck and Scops Owl. Three Alpine Swifts were seen; one making it as far north as the Butt of Lewis, Outer Hebrides. A Woodchat Shrike was found in Waterford, Ireland but the pick of the bunch, also in Ireland, was a Baillon's Crake, found on Great Saltee, Wexford. The nearest breeding area for this species is in northern central France.

Wryneck by Jill Pakenham

Common migrants didn't disappoint either, Chiffchaffs arrived en-masse and made it as far north as Shetland. Swallows and Sand Martins became more widespread, and there was a further arrival of House Martins. A handful of Tree Pipits were seen, two weeks ahead of their average arrival date of April 6, whilst the Turtle Dove seen in West Sussex is almost a month ahead of its average arrival date of April 20.The Sedge Warbler, Seen in Oxon on Sunday, is the first of the spring, and twenty-one days ahead of its average arrival date.

Sedge Warbler by Dawn Balmer

There were a couple of reports of Cuckoo over the weekend but none were pinned down or reported subsequently. The BTO satellite tagged birds are all still south of the Sahara desert, three are in Ivory Coast and one in Ghana. Presumably these birds are using this part of West Africa to prepare for the long journey north back to the UK. Having spent most of the winter in Congo, these birds could make their move across the Sahara in the next week or so. You can follow their journey .

The weather for the coming week is set to change very little, so we should see the arrival of more common migrants and more overshoots from the Med, all taking advantage of the light winds over southern Europe and the UK.

One of our partners at BirdGuides will be spending the next three months studying migration at Falsterbo, Sweden, and keeping us up to date with movements there.

Judging by the snowdrops and crocus, spring here at Falsterbo (southern Sweden) is a good few weeks behind what it was when I left northwest England. Migration has been noticeable here over the past four days — but the bulk of the species caught perhaps weren't what we in the British Isles would associate with being typical spring migrants. Of the 176 birds ringed on Friday, 117 were Robins.

Black Redstart by Stephen Menzie

Chiffchaffs are passing through — as are Wrens, Dunnocks, finches and thrushes. The last few days have seen an increase in numbers of White Wagtail, while on Sunday two Black Redstarts were seen on the peninsular including a stunning adult male ringed at the lighthouse garden. A Sparrowhawk carrying a Danish ring hinted that there might be some movement of raptors from 'across the water', while up on the heath buzzards were moving — a dozen of so Common and two Rough-legged. An Osprey was seen over the weekend and a number of Common Cranes have passed through but we're still waiting on our first Blackcaps, Wheatears, Swallows and Sand Martins.

I'll be in Falsterbo for the next three months and will be providing regular updates of how the spring is progressing over here. I'll also be updating my own blog each day with ringing news and sightings.

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