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 August 2013

Autumn migration

Whilst the weather still feels quite summery, for some of our birds the summer is well and truly over. Migration has begun in earnest and already flocks of terns, mainly Arctic, are being recorded moving down the west coast. This is a sure sign that skua passage is about to start too, and the next couple of weeks should see this take place.

Waders have been on the move for over a month but with juveniles now joining the adult birds, this is probably the best time of the year to get out and enjoy these global wanderers. Gravel pits and the muddy fringes of inland lakes can just as easily turn up passage waders as coastal sites, so don't be disheartened if you live a long way from the sea. Green Sandpipers are currently well represented but during the next week or so, these will be joined by more Wood and Curlew Sandpipers. Little Stints are also beginning to turn up and if we get a bit of east in the wind, Temminck's Stints could also feature.

Whimbrels have started to leave their northerly breeding grounds and flocks have been seen migrating far out to see, passing a survey vessel 100 miles southwest of the Irish coast. For more birding news from the survey vessel read the Pelagic Birder blog here.   

Above: Whimbrels by Andy Williams 

Passerines are popping up at coastal watchpoints with Redstart, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers all being found. Swifts are pouring out of the country and House Martins and Swallows are also beginning to move is smaller numbers.

The warm southerly airflow that we are in at the moment has resulted in a couple of Woodchat Shrikes, a Short-toed Lark and a Black Stork already, but we could see more arriving from the continent over the next couple of days. Wryneck and Hoopoe might well be on the cards, and perhaps an autumn Bee-eater or Alpine Swift too.

Saturday and Sunday are forecast to have an easterly element in the wind and this could bring a few birds from the east. Greenish Warbler and Rose-coloured Starling are favourites, and Aquatic Warbler might be expected too. Aquatic Warbler is now much rarer than it used to be as a passage bird in the UK but it is still worth looking out for in mid to late August when easterly winds occur.

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