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 30 November 2012

Heading south for the winter?

With the main migration period well and truly over and winter very much upon us, it is easy to think that migration has finished for 2012. However, birds can be on the move at all times of the year.

Right now the temperature is plummeting in northern and eastern Europe and for the next four to five days even the daytime temperatures won’t get above freezing in those parts of the continent. This will result in many of the remaining berries dropping and waterbodies freezing over.

Birds that rely on either of these resources will have to head off in search of warmer conditions where food and unfrozen water are available. For many birds in northern and eastern Europe this often means crossing the North Sea to the relatively balmy conditions on offer in the UK.

As a result of the falling temperatures, we are already seeing a fresh arrival of thrushes on the east coast. Interestingly Blackbird seems to be leading the charge with birds arriving in large numbers from Sandinavia and the Continent. The ringing recoveries for Blackbird shows their origin well. Perhaps Blackbirds have done as well on the continent this breeding season as they have been here. The NRS preliminary results for 2012 show a very poor breeding season in the UK for many species with Black bird being an exception.

Waxwings continue to move south and west through the country and as the cold bites further north in the UK we can expect this movement to gather pace over the next few days.

Smew by Edmund Fellowes

The first Smew have begun to turn up this week and these are likely to be the vanguard of a larger movement of wildfowl over the next few days and weeks. Tufted Duck, Pochard, Pintail, and Teal will be arriving on inland waters, and scoters (both Common and Velvet), Eider, Long-tailed Duck and Goldeneye moving to inshore waters.

With Northerly winds forecast for the next few days, we could see a new movement of Little Auks with the addition of some white-winged gulls. Glaucous and Iceland Gulls are the most likely but an Ivory Gull could be on the cards too. For help with identifying Glaucous and Iceland Gulls check this bird ID video

Woodcock and Bewick’s Swan have only arrived in small numbers so far, but as conditions get harder on the continent we should see more appearing up here.

Skylark by Tommy Holden

With freezing temperature forecast in the UK over the next few days and with the lowest temperatures expected in the North, we could also see some cold weather movements within the UK. As the ground becomes frozen or buried under snow, Golden Plover and Lapwing are the most obvious to be on the move in search of better conditions. A large movement of Skylark could also occur.

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