Friday 14 March 2014

Spring has arrived!

The high pressure system over the UK during the last few days brought the forecast spring-like conditions, and the expected rush of long-distance summer migrants. Wheatears made it as far north as Mull, Argyll, and the first House Martins joined Sand Martins and Swallows but it was a reeling Grasshopper Warbler and a couple of Yellow Wagtails that were most surprising amongst the common migrants. The average arrival date for the former is 13 April and 7 April for the latter, according to BirdFacts.
Yellow Wagtail by Jill Pakenham
Chiffchaff numbers began to build, bang on cue, and Meadow Pipits were on the move too, 330 were counted during a visible migration watch on Hengistbury Head, Dorset on 12 March, with four figure totals for Portland, also in Dorset on the same day. Smaller numbers of ‘alba’ wagtails also featured at both sites. The first Ring Ouzels were seen, along with a few Little Ringed Plovers and, as predicted, overshooting Hoopoes arrived, at least six were found, all in the south-west, with the exception of one in Kent also arrived in perfect overshoot conditions, which also brought a Great Spotted Cuckoo and a Wryneck to Pembrokeshire.

Great Spotted Cuckoo by Cliff Woodhead
Redwings have featured as a species on the move at several migration watchpoints, along with small flocks of Pink-footed Geese and Whooper Swans – twenty-five of the latter were seen sitting on the sea off Flamborough Head on the 12th, with another twelve past there on the 13th .
Whooper Swans by Jill Pakenham
High pressure is still set to dominate over the next few days with light north-westerly airflow setting in. This may well slow things down a little but won’t stop migration altogether, so, things are set to continue in a similar vein. Saturday into Sunday looks best for any overshooting migrants with Hoopoe still being favourite, and we could see the first large movement of Meadow Pipits and White Wagtails, and perhaps a few more Ring Ouzels.  

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