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 6 April 2018

Migrants about to flood in

Spring migration has been a bit of a trickle so far, however, this is about to change. The forecast for the next few days, and into next week, is one of southerly and at times fairly light winds, the ideal recipe for migrants that have been held-up to finally arrive.

Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps should really be here in force now but as evidenced by the BirdTrack graphs they are running about two weeks late.

These aren’t the only birds running late as most of the early migrants seem to be held-up further south. The graphs for Swallow and Wheatear are just as revealing.

As we write this, birds are at last beginning to arrive, several Chiffchaffs and a single Willow Warbler are now singing on the BTO’s Nunnery Lakes, and the first singing Blackcap of the spring has just burst into song at the headquarters.

The winds on Friday are forecast to be coming from as far south as North Africa, which will almost certainly provide a window for some of our later arriving visitors to get here a little early; there is already a report of a Common Swift from Lancashire and the winds are only just turning south. During the next couple of days birds such as Cuckoo, Turtle Dove and Hobby should all be on the cards. The trickle of Yellow Wagtails, Tree Pipits and Ring Ouzels should also grow, and we should see the first push of Sedge Warblers.

With winds coming from so far south, overshoots will be inevitable, Alpine Swift, Hoopoe, Red-rumped Swallow and Black Kite are the classics but a showy Great Spotted Cuckoo would be much appreciated.

A flavour of migration further south has been given to us a by a friend who is currently working on a survey ship 8 miles off the North African coast around Agadir, Morocco. He has seen flocks of Pintail heading north, a trickle of Sandwich and Common Terns accompanied by Arctic, Long-tailed and Pomarine Skuas. 

Long-tailed Skua chasing Sandwich Tern
 by Andrew Williams

Swallows have also been on the move but the highlights have included Grey Phalaropes, a Hoopoe being mobbed by several gulls that managed to run the gauntlet and carry on north, and a Purple Heron that tried to land on the ship but failed and too continued north.

 Hoopoe off Agadir by Andrew Williams

Evading capture

Paul Stancliffe
Scott Mayson

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