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.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Ring Ouzels arrive in force

This weekend’s cold north-easterly airflow wasn’t ideal for summer migrants heading back to the UK. However, birds did arrive, with Ring Ouzel being the most notable. Most of these were seen in the south but birds reached as far north as Glen Strathfarrar, Highland. In several counties flocks of Ring Ouzels reached into double figures, with fourteen being seen together at Pegsdon, Beds. This arrival is reflected nicely in the BirdTrack reporting rate.

Ring Ouzel by Tommy Holden

At this time of the year, Ring Ouzels can turn up on migration almost anywhere. Check-out the latest BTO identification video to listen to the differences between Ring Ouzel and Blackbird song, and other tips on identifying this enigmatic thrush.

South coast visible migration watchers were also rewarded with a steady arrival of Swallows and Willow Warblers, whilst smaller numbers of Redstarts, Yellow Wagtails and Grasshopper Warblers also made landfall. Some migrants are being held-up though, as illustrated in an email we received from Rod Leslie in the Pyrenees

"I was at Aiguamolls de l'Emporda just south of the Pyrenees yesterday (16 April) in a howling westerly gale & temperatures down to 5 degrees C. Migrants completely pinned down with large flocks of Hirundines looking very tired. In several hides where leeward windows had been left open large numbers of Swallows were sheltering - see the attached photo. They were so tired it was possible to quietly share the hide with them."

Hide full of sheltering Swallows
Aiguamolls de l'Emporda

The first multiple arrival of Nightingale was also obvious, with five singing males together in one Hampshire woodland. This spring the BTO is conducting a Nightingale survey to map all singing males.

With northerly winds dominating it is hardly surprising that Mediterranean overshoots were thin on the ground. However, at least two Hoopoes were reported, in Norfolk and Worcestershire, and two Black-winged Stilts braved the unseasonable spring chill in Dorset and Lincolnshire.

Migration across the North Sea finally got underway. Stephen Menzie reports.

Wind, rain and cool weather had put a dampener on migration at Falsterbo over the previous week or so. The last 5 days have seen a change in the weather — southeasterly winds and warmer temperatures — and with the change in weather has come a wave of migrating birds. Robins are still the most obvious (we ringed 250 on Saturday) but we've also trapped our first trans-Saharan migrants; our first Willow Warbler on Thursday and our first Lesser Whitethroat on Sunday. Moreover, we finally got our first (and so far only) Blackcap of the spring.

Lesser Whitethroat by Stephen Menzie

Swallows, Wheatears, Ring Ouzels, Tree Pipits and Ospreys have all been seen with increasing frequency over the last few days. Falsterbo has already hosted a male Redstart — an early bird by Swedish standards. Sandwich Terns have become a constant background presence as they pass along the shore close to the lighthouse. Sunday saw a Pallid Harrier passing over the peninsular — one of the birds seen here last autumn on its way back north?

Scarce short-distance migrants ringed in the lighthouse garden have included a Hawfinch and several Firecrests (it's been an exceptionally good spring for Firecrests here in southern Sweden). 3,000 Eiders passing Sweden's most southerly point was a spectacle worth seeing — migration in action!

For more see Stephen's blog.

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