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 15 November 2013

Look out for Greenland White-fronts this week

The light westerly winds and clear days of the last week prompted the predicted huge movement of Woodpigeons, 50,800 were counted flying over Swanscombe Marshes, Kent in a single morning. Woodcock arrived in small numbers along the east coast and Fieldfares finally arrived in number; 20,000 were counted coming in off the sea in one hour on the 11th at Snettisham, Norfolk, along with 50,000 Starlings.

Starlings by Tommy Holden

So, what might happen this week.?

Greenland White-fronted Goose by Chris Mills

The weather over the weekend promises to be a mixed bag. For most of us Saturday looks like the better day and, with light westerly winds, at least in the southern half of the country and the North Sea, Redwings, Starlings and Fieldfares could be on the move again. But it is the early part of next week when things might get a little more exciting. Cold north-westerly winds straight from Greenland and Iceland look like they could bring snow to parts of the UK, along with Greenland White-fronted Geese, Icelandic Redwings and a few white-winged gulls, Glaucous and Iceland are the most obvious but a Ross’s Gull would be much appreciated.

Glaucous Gull by Peter M Wilson

As the week progresses it is forecast to get colder, and if this results in frost ground we might see the first cold weather movement of Skylarks and Lapwings.

Friday 8 November 2013

Migration not over yet

There are a few overwintering species that are obvious by their absence.  Fieldfares are still very thin on the ground, and the BirdTrack reporting rate shows this well. Woodcock is another species that should by now be building up, and Starlings have still not reached their peak. However, with the temperature dropping and light winds forecast for Saturday into Sunday, maybe this weekend will see them catch-up.

BirdTrack reporting rate for Fieldfare

BirdTrack reporting rate for Woodcock

Whooper Swans have continued to arrive, whilst Bewick’s Swans are still very thin on the ground. It might be that with lighter winds, albeit westerly, across the North Sea for part of this weekend will see Bewick’s Swans arriving too, and if we are going to experience what can be one of the most impressive movements of the autumn, the Woodpigeon migration, Saturday, into Sunday could well be the time they choose to get moving.

Bewick's Swan by Andy Mason

Waxwings have been arriving in small numbers in the north, and whilst on paper it doesn’t look like this winter will be a Waxwing winter, there are so many variables that make it difficult to predict. The berry crop might be good on the continent and hold them there, but if the temperature plummets and snow and ice make the berries impossible to get at the birds will have to move in search of new supplies. How far they go will be dependent on the extent of the freezing conditions. So, whilst it might not look like we are in for a Waxwing winter, it can never be fully ruled out.

Waxwing by Andy Mason

A cold snap on the continent will also push what has to be two of my favourite winter birds to our shores; Goldeneye and Smew. Again this will very much depend on the weather across the North Sea.

So, whilst we might be heading for mid-November, migration still has a lot to offer and, if we do get an arrival of wildfowl there is always a chance of something interesting arriving with them; King Eider is always a favourite but an accessible Steller’s Eider would draw the crowds.