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, 23 March 2012

Migration picking up speed

With a settled high pressure weather system over most of southern Europe, conditions have been looking ideal for migration to take place. It came as no surprise then, when migrants began to turn up. Chiffchaffs have been the most noticeable this week, with singing birds heard overlarge parts of the country. The BirdTrack map shows this nicely.

Meadow Pipit by Nigel Clark/BTO

Although the first large movement of Wheatears and Swallows is still to happen, a few individuals of both species have made it as far north as Highland, Scotland. A handful of Willow Warblers arrived last week too, as expected, mainly in the south. Meadow Pipits finally started to move; 1650 were counted during a visible migration watch at Hengistbury Head, Dorset on the 22nd, along with a smaller number of ‘alba’ Wagtails (Pied / White). The first Stone Curlews arrived back on their breeding grounds in the Norfolk and Suffolk Brecks, and the first House Martins were seen on the Isles of Scilly and in Northumberland.

Sand Martins arrived in sufficient numbers to form small flocks; 32 together in Lancashire was amongst the largest. At least eight Ospreys were logged, with sightings from Surrey to North Yorkshire, and an Alpine Swift spent the weekend on the Lizard, Cornwall, joining the three or four Night Herons that have arrived in the south-west.
With the weather set to continue in a similar vein, early migrants that have made it into southern Europe should begin to pour north. The high pressure system that is now over the UK stretches all the way from northern England to the northern shores of the Mediterranean, with the whole area experiencing light winds.

Serin by Su Delve

With a singing male Serin being found on the Isles of Scilly, and a Hoopoe in Cornwall in the last few days, other southern European overshooting migrants could be on the cards. A Great Spotted Cuckoo – a classic early-spring overshoot – would be a nice find!

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