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 4 April 2014

Floodgates still to open

Whilst there has been a lot more migration action during the last week, the floodgates are still to open. That said, Chiffchaff and Blackcap numbers definitely increased markedly this week and the first flush of Willow Warblers also occurred pretty much on cue, and neatly illustrated by the BirdTrack graph below.

BirdTrack reporting rate for Willow Warbler

A few more Redstarts, Grasshopper, Sedge and Reed Warblers were seen, along with the first Pied Flycatcher and Tree Pipit. There have been a few more reports of Cuckoo, none of them concerning any of the BTO satellite tagged birds, the first of which is crossing the Sahara as I write and is currently just south of the border between Mali and Algeria. By this evening, if all goes well, he should have completed what must be the most arduous part of the migration back to the UK. You can follow his and the other birds journeys here.

Pied Flycatcher by Edmund Fellowes

Departing winter visitors are still a feature, with flocks Redwing, and in particular, Fieldfare, occurring in good numbers. A flock of 150 Fieldfares were on my local patch at Lakenheath mid-week. So, now is a good time to get out and help the BTO chart the thrush departure as part of the Winter Thrushes Survey. The survey closes in mid-April. Another local feature this week was a small flock of around a dozen or so Brambling in a small beech wood in Thetford Forest in full song.

As predicted, inland waterbodies were well worth checking this week, Common and Velvet Scoter - sometimes in small flocks - being found at several sites. A Blue-winged Teal was found in Northamptonshire, but pride of place has to go to the Baikal Teal found in Cambridgeshire. Whether it is a genuine vagrant might be open to debate but the timing is good and another drake was found in Belgium this week. Whatever the final decision is won’t detract from the stunning beauty of the bird.

Baikal Teal by Dave Key -

On the scarcities front, another Great Spotted Cuckoo was found in Devon, and a handful of new Hoopoes also arrived.

So, what might we expect this week? Things are likely to continue in the same vein for the first part of the week, however, high-pressure is forecast to build over southern Europe around mid-week bringing very light south-westerly winds from North Africa to northern France. Anything that has been held up in poor weather and strong winds over the last few days in northern Spain/southern France, will begin to move north and we might finally see the floodgates open. Southern overshoots are also definitely on the cards from Tuesday onwards. Black Kite and Woodchat Shrike are my guess.

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