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 26 October 2018

Eastern Promise

As expected, the northerly winds meant that migration was relatively quiet this week. However, a trickle of birds continued to arrive, most notably Common Crossbills. From Tuesday onwards, daily totals of up 200 birds were noted at Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory, Kent. Smaller numbers were recorded elsewhere along the south coast. The BirdTrack reporting rate graph shows as above average for the last few weeks so it is worth checking any local sites for birds on the move.

Thrushes and finches continued to arrive, albeit in smaller numbers with counts from bird observatories along the east coast in the low hundreds for both Fieldfare and Redwing. Most sites also held a Short-eared Owl or two and late October/early November is the peak time for this species based on BirdTrack reports.

Short-eared Owl by Mark Taylor/BTO

More unusual migrants included small numbers of Stock Doves arriving in off the North Sea along the south and south east coast. While birds breeding in Britain and Ireland are considered to be sedentary, the populations of Stock Dove in Scandinavia and eastern Europe are migratory. A handful of Waxwings were reported along the east coast, with most seen as fly-overs only.

Over the course of the weekend, the winds gradually shift from northwest to east, with strong northerly winds forecast for Saturday morning. Over 70 Pomarine Skuas were logged passing Titchwell, Norfolk this morning and tomorrow looks like a good day for this species, and other skuas, to be found along the east coast. The first Little Auks of the autumn may well be reported moving past offshore as well.

Little Auk by Morris Rendall/BTO

Based on current forecasts, the winds will remain easterly until Tuesday at least, which may well bring an arrival of Siberian migrants, including commoner species such as Brent Goose and Bewick’s Swan. Given the origin of the winds, a late arrival of Yellow-browed and Pallas’s Warblers seems possible, and any Wheatear is worth checking for something rarer, such as Desert or Pied Wheatear. There is always the potential for something unexpected turning up – a Siberian Rubythroat would brighten any day!

Stephen McAvoy

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