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 27 July 2018

Autumn here we come

It seems a shame to mention the autumn whilst we are enjoying an amazing summer but autumn migration is gathering pace already. All of the BTO satellite tagged Cuckoos had left the UK by the end of June but since leaving some of them have had a rapid migration south; five have already successfully crossed the Sahara, you can follow all fourteen tagged birds here.

Swift numbers are beginning to build at coastal migration watchpoints as they too begin the long journey south, along with a few Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins. The first warblers are also on the move with Willow and Sedge leading the way, and a few Lesser Whitethroats too. Many of these warblers will be this year’s young and will have nice fresh plumage and will stand out from the more worn looking adults.

Swift occurrence falling in BirdTrack

The most obvious migration happening right now is that of the waders and numbers will continue to build over the next few weeks. Early July saw Knot, Redshank, Spotted Redshanks and Bar and Black-tailed Godwits on the move but these have now been joined by Curlew and Green and Common Sandpipers, along with a few Whimbrel. It won’t be long now before the stints and Wood Sandpipers move too. A westerly airflow at this time of year can also produce the occasional American wader such as White-rumped, Pectoral or Baird’s Sandpiper and maybe something rarer like a Wilson’s phalarope!

Wilson's Phalarope by Andy Mason

Balearic Shearwaters, which breed in the Mediterranean, migrate to spend the autumn in the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel. Seawatching along the south coast at this time of year can produce good numbers especially during strong onshore winds. Occasionally birds make it further north and in to the North Sea.  A handful of Great Shearwaters and Wilson’s Petrels have also been seen off southern Ireland and in the southwest approaches, these will be making their way south to breed on remote South Atlantic islands.

Balearic Shearwater by Joe Pender

From the weather forecast it seems that the fairly settled weather will be with us for a little longer yet, however, during the next few days there are a few weak fronts that will cross the Atlantic. This should provide the right conditions for those seabirds that are crossing the Atlantic too and we ought to get a few more records of the large shearwaters and a few more Wilson’s Petrels too. The first Sabine’s Gulls might also put in an appearance as winds straight out of the Labrador Sea head this way too.

Paul Stancliffe and Scott Mayson

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.