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 13 October 2017

East meets west

Whilst the weather during the last week has been dominated by fast moving fronts crossing the Atlantic and westerly airflow, a short period of light north/north-easterly winds over the weekend brought an eastern flavour with them.

As eastern flavours go, the stunning male Siberian Blue Robin that was found on the Orkney island of North Ronaldsay on 8 October is deserving of three Michelin stars. The latter somewhat overshadowed the other big bird of the week, a first-year Cedar Waxwing that was found at the other end of the UK, on St Agnes, Isles of Scilly. Both have travelled over 5,000km (3,000 miles) to reach Britain.

Yellow-browed Warbler by Trevor Codlin

At the same time, Yellow-browed Warblers numbers have been building up, exceeding three figures as the week progressed, with birds being found in coastal and inland locations alike, everywhere from Shetland to Scilly.

Parrot Crossbills continue to turn up, too. We might be in for another invasion of this much sought-after bird; the next north-easterly airflow of the autumn might give us a better idea if this will happen.

On the home front, finches have begun to move with flocks of Linnets, Siskins, redpolls and Goldfinches being observed during visible migration watches on the east coast. There has also been a trickle of Redwings, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Ring Ouzels.

Blackbird by John Harding

Pink-footed and Brent Geese have pushed south and are to be seen at most of their winter haunts, while Whooper Swans have started to arrive too.

At sea, divers are on the move, along with a few skuas. Great and Arctic Skuas have been seen fairly frequently from both east and west coasts.

The forecast for the weekend is looking very interesting. Ex-hurricane Ophelia is set to arrive on British shores on Monday but before it does, it will be drawing southerly airflow all the way from southern Spain, so we could be in for a few southern arrivals. Western Orphean Warbler and Rock Thrush have both been found in the last couple of days and may well be forerunners of things to come over the next few days. Pallid Swift could well be on the cards and perhaps something as rare as a Spanish Black-eared Wheatear or a Crag Martin. Who knows, maybe even Britain’s first Black-winged Kite?  

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