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.

Thursday 30 July 2015

Look to the sea

The conditions during the last few days have meant that any early passerine migration has been somewhat supressed. However, there has been a steady movement of seabirds offshore. Terns have started to head south, mostly Common and Arctic but also a good smattering of Black Terns too. The forecast unsettled weather should see more seabirds passing close to the coast. When terns are on the move skuas are not too far behind, so we should see more Great Skua, a few Arctic and the odd Pomarine being logged in the next week.

Pomarine Skua by Joe Pender

Scoters have also begun to move, mostly Common but one or two Velvets have also been seen. The highlight has probably been the movement of shearwaters. The southwest has enjoyed a few Great and Cory’s, whilst Manx Shearwaters have been moving down both the west and east coasts, and a few Balearics have been seen from the south coast.

Wader passage has begun in earnest, with passage migrants joining our breeding waders and the relatively small numbers of non-breeding species like Bar-tailed Godwit that over-summer on our estuaries.  For most wader species, it is failed breeders and adult males that leave the breeding grounds first, so these make up the majority of individuals here in July. Small numbers of adult Curlew Sandpiper, many still in their fine breeding plumage, and Little Stint are among the non-breeding waders logged in the last week. Moving into August, females and then juveniles will form a growing proportion of the waders passing through.

Post-breeding dispersal is well underway too, with mixed flocks of tits and warblers – including lots of juveniles – roaming the countryside. Although many of these will be locally-bred birds, migrants from elsewhere do pass through as well. Keep a look out for species like Sedge and Reed Warbler appearing in hedgerows and other ‘out of place’ habitats: a sign they may be individuals from further afield.

Finally – and even though it isn’t even August yet – five BTO-tagged Cuckoos are already in Africa!

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