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.

Friday 26 October 2012

Thrushes arrive in force

Over the last few days one of the biggest natural events of the autumn has been unfolding along the east coast with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of thrushes.

Redwing by Andy Mason

By far the biggest arrival occurred at Spurn, East Yorkshire where over 21,000 Redwing, 10,000 Blackbird, 9,000 Fieldfare, 800 Song Thrush, 57 Ring Ouzel and 10 Mistle Thrush were counted on the 22nd. Until then Fieldfares were conspicuous by their absence and the BirdTrack reporting rate shows just how late they are arriving this autumn, in comparison to the previous two years.

Along with thrushes were large numbers of other typical late autumn migrants, with Robin, Goldcrest and Brambling also arriving in force. There were numerous records of Black Redstart, usually a fairly scarce migrant and winter visitor, and a mouth-watering trio of eastern rarities appeared too! Britain’s first ever Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, which breeds no nearer than southeastern Russia, was found on Portland, Dorset. The Western Palearctic’s third Chestnut-eared Bunting, a species breeding from the Western Himalayas, China to southeast Siberia, arrived on Shetland, and Britain’s tenth Siberian Rubythroat, also on the Shetland Islands, added to an incredibly exciting period.

Waxwing by Andy Mason
Swallows and House Martins are still moving through south coast sites in double figures. At Hengistbury Head, Dorset, 79 Swallows and 41 House Martins moved through on the  yesterday morning of the 24th.
Starlings also began moving this week with over 5,000 being counted moving west on the North Norfolk coast on the 20th, and around 30 Waxwings have arrived in the north.

Little Auk by Andy Mason

With the winds turning northerly and forecast to be quite strong at times the focus could well be on birds moving just offshore. An arrival of Little Auks looks like a good bet, along with good numbers of wildfowl, and possibly more Waxwings. With frosts forecast for early next week Skylark and Woodpigeon could also move in impressive numbers. With the winds coming straight out of the Arctic this weekend, the rarity value could well be in the shape of a Snowy Owl.

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