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 20 March 2015

Still early but birds are on the move

During the last week there have been windows in the weather that have allowed birds to push north – Chiffchaffs, presumably held up further south arrived, not exactly in force but in numbers that made for some good counts at a few sites. Over 200 were recorded at Portland, Dorset on 18 March. Meadow Pipit migration is also a feature in March and it was beginning to look like it might not happen this year, however, taking advantage of the same weather window as the Chiffchaffs.

Chiffchaff by Amy Lewis

Meadow Pipits did finally begin to move in good numbers, over south coast watchpoints at least.
More Wheatears, more Sand Martins and a few more Swallows were also on the move, only a handful of the latter were involved though. The first Ring Ouzels were reported and a small number of Willow Warblers were also seen and heard.

So, what can we expect for the nest week?

The weather is forecast to be pretty similar to this week with the wind moving from the north through the whole of the compass and back to northerlies by the end of the week. At times there will be light winds which ought to provide more windows in the weather and, at these times birds will begin to move. It is still early in the season but we should see things stepping-up a gear. It ought to be a week of Chiffchaffs and Meadow Pipits but we can also expect a few more Willow Warblers and Sandwich Terns to crop up too.

Sandwich Tern by Andy Mason

Cliff-nesting seabirds ought to begin to increase as more and more return to their colonies, particularly during quiet periods in the weather, and seawatchers could be treated to some spectacular wildfowl movements – now is a good time for scoters to be on the move. It is worth checking out inland waters too, as a few Common Scoters do seem to migrate over land during March. Other wildfowl on the move will include Wigeon, Pintail, Teal and Shoveler, and flocks of geese should also be a feature, as Brent, Pink-footed, White-fronted and Greylag geese all start to make their way north.

Redwings and Fieldfares could also head out mid-week as the winds become more favourable for a North Sea crossing. The weather isn’t looking so good for those Redwings that are heading back to Iceland though. and along with Whooper Swans, Northern Britain could see good numbers of both gathering in readiness for more suitable conditions.

Scarcity of the week has to go to the immature White-tailed Eagle that did a tour of East Anglia during the early part of the week and is still present at the time of writing. At this stage it is impossible to know where this bird originated from. However, during the last few days it has visited several points along the Norfolk and Suffolk coast, perhaps looking for the ideal conditions to cross the North Sea, giving us a clue of its possible natal area. The bird is ringed but the ring number hasn’t been visible so far.

Bufflehead by Luke Delve

With the winds coming from all direction this week it is hard to hazard a guess at a rarity but it could well be a duck that has spent the winter further south. Of the sixteen Buffleheads that have been accepted in Britain, five occurred in March.

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