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, 8 November 2013

Migration not over yet

There are a few overwintering species that are obvious by their absence.  Fieldfares are still very thin on the ground, and the BirdTrack reporting rate shows this well. Woodcock is another species that should by now be building up, and Starlings have still not reached their peak. However, with the temperature dropping and light winds forecast for Saturday into Sunday, maybe this weekend will see them catch-up.

BirdTrack reporting rate for Fieldfare

BirdTrack reporting rate for Woodcock

Whooper Swans have continued to arrive, whilst Bewick’s Swans are still very thin on the ground. It might be that with lighter winds, albeit westerly, across the North Sea for part of this weekend will see Bewick’s Swans arriving too, and if we are going to experience what can be one of the most impressive movements of the autumn, the Woodpigeon migration, Saturday, into Sunday could well be the time they choose to get moving.

Bewick's Swan by Andy Mason

Waxwings have been arriving in small numbers in the north, and whilst on paper it doesn’t look like this winter will be a Waxwing winter, there are so many variables that make it difficult to predict. The berry crop might be good on the continent and hold them there, but if the temperature plummets and snow and ice make the berries impossible to get at the birds will have to move in search of new supplies. How far they go will be dependent on the extent of the freezing conditions. So, whilst it might not look like we are in for a Waxwing winter, it can never be fully ruled out.

Waxwing by Andy Mason

A cold snap on the continent will also push what has to be two of my favourite winter birds to our shores; Goldeneye and Smew. Again this will very much depend on the weather across the North Sea.

So, whilst we might be heading for mid-November, migration still has a lot to offer and, if we do get an arrival of wildfowl there is always a chance of something interesting arriving with them; King Eider is always a favourite but an accessible Steller’s Eider would draw the crowds.

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