Rather unsurprisingly, for both migrants arriving and those departing it has been slow this week. However, despite the freezing conditions, a small window opened up late in the week when the stiff northerly winds eased and high pressure over much of southern Europe allowed those birds poised to make the last leap north. There was a distinct arrival of Chiffchaff on the south coast with around sixty being counted at Hengistbury Head, Dorset, on 13 and 14 March, and another forty just along the coast at Portland.
Chiffchaff by Andy Mason
The first Little Ringed Plovers were also seen during this period, with at least one bird as far north as Cheshire. With low pressure spinning over the UK this weekend it looks very much like any further movement will be very limited. However, during the early part of next week we will experience light southerly winds and showers; perfect conditions for another fall of Chiffchaffs and the first big arrival of Wheatears, birds that may currently be held up a little further south.
These conditions might also help those birds heading north and east, Starlings - including the bird that does a perfect rendition of male singing Golden Oriole in my garden, presumably from somewhere east of the UK. Along with Waxwings, Redwings, Fieldfares and wildfowl that have all been seen in slightly larger numbers this week but have been stopped from getting any further by the stiff northerly airstream that we have been trapped in.
Grey Phalaropes off Morocco by Andy Williams
Some seabirds are moving, with Manx Shearwater and Arctic Skua being recorded this week. Much further south a small flock of migrating Grey Phalaropes were photographed from a survey ship of the Atlantic coast of Morocco, and a steady but light passage of Sandwich Terns was also seen. For more visit Pelagic Birder.
So, with the weather forecast to remain unsettled for most of next week we can expect more of the same.