Friday 10 May 2013

Skuas are go!

With the onset of strong westerly winds, passerine migration has slowed a little. But these wind have pushed migrating Pomarine and Arctic Skuas closer to shore, with some birds moving through the English Channel, with the weather forecast to remain unsettled for the next three or four days, seawatching might be the order of the day.
Arctic and Pomarine Skua by Martin Cade

After the initial flush of Hobbies the last week has seen many more arrive, and although they are still running a little late they are beginning to catch up. The same can’t be said for Spotted Flycatcher and we still await their main arrival.

BirdTrack reporting rate for Hobby

Swifts have moved back onto breeding sites and can now be seen over many towns and cities, although they are present in smaller numbers than is usual. With strong westerly winds forecast for the next three or four days we might have to wait for their numbers to build up.

BirdTrack reporting rate for Swift

Common summer migrants have continued to pass through coastal watchpoints, with Whinchat being one of the most noticeable, along with further arrivals of Blackcap and Garden Warbler. With a spell of south-easterly wind mid-week rare and scarce birds were well represented, the pick of which for many will be the male Collared Flycatcher that was found in Northumberland. The same county also hosted a Black Stork!

Whinchat by Edmund Fellowes

Up to ten Hoopoes were seen from Scilly to the Outer Hebrides, a flock of eight Bee-eaters made a brief appearance in Norfolk and up to four Red-rumped Swallows were seen. Whilst from further east, Thrush Nightingale and Icterine Warbler were both seen on Fair Isle, and a male Red-breasted Flycatcher on nearby Mainland Shetland.

So, with strong westerlies the norm for the first part of next week things might be a little slower than last week but Skua migration could be very impressive. From mid-week the forecast is for more south-easterlies and maybe a repeat of last week’s birds and the possibility of a mega-rare. A full breeding plumaged Caspian Plover would see many birders heading to wherever it makes landfall.

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