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, 28 August 2015

Migration moves into another gear

If you are interested in scarce migrants, the east coast was the place to be this week as it was set alight with Icterine Warblers, Barred Warblers, Wrynecks and Red-backed Shrikes, courtesy of a few days of easterly airflow. Wryneck led the numbers with around a hundred being reported from over sixty different sites and whilst the number of Icterine Warblers was much lower there was still around fifty birds reported. Surprise of the week has to be the mini-influx of Red-footed Falcons.

Wryneck by Jill Pakenham

Common migrants were equally as impressive, led by a huge fall of Pied Flycatchers on the east coast, accompanied by good numbers of Whinchats, Yellow Wagtails and Willow Warblers.

BirdTrack graph for Pied Flycatcher

It was also an amazing week for Wood Sandpiper, with the peak counts of 34 individuals at Seaton Marshes in Devon and 22 together at Pennington Marshes, Hampshire. Swifts have all but gone from their breeding areas but a small number are still moving through coastal watchpoints.

The weather forecast for the next week is looking mixed but with a dominant westerly airflow. However, there is a small window of easterly airflow on Saturday into Sunday so we might see a few more migrants drifting across the North Sea. Red-backed Shrike, Wryneck and Greenish Warbler are all possible but we could see good numbers of Pied and Spotted Flycatchers once again.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Migration stepping up – guest blog by Ben Moyes

In terms of migrating birds in the UK, it’s a similar story to last week, with several Shearwaters being seen on the south-west coast and Isles of Scilly, including a very rare Fea’s Petrel amongst the Great, Cory’s, Manx and occasional Balearic Shearwaters.

Fea’s Petrel by Joe Pender 

There are also still a some Skua’s being seen of coastal points, with Arctic and Great Skua’s being the most abundant, but Pomarine Skua’s are still being a seen with a couple of Long-tailed Skua’s starting to be seen.

Waders are still on the move across the country, with more Wood Sandpipers, Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint being seen, with the odd rarity mixed in, as White-rumped, Spotted and Baird’s Sandpiper have been seen this last week across the UK.

Little Stint by Tommy Holden

As autumn has really climbed a lot closer (if it isn’t here already), passerines are coming through, with 138 sightings of Redstart, 177 of Pied Flycatcher, 21 of Wood Warbler and 258 of Whinchat. A few scarcities have been seen too, with a small number Icterine and Barred Warblers, Red-backed Shrikes, Wrynecks, and even a Bluethroat has been sighted.

Redstart by John Harding

Our Hirundines are starting to pack their bags, but some have already headed off, with several Swifts being seen flying high south past coastal bird observatories, with over 4000 past Landguard, Suffolk in one morning. As for Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins, they are feeding up ready for the big journey south to Africa.

Another migrant bird in the UK is the Osprey. They have already bred in Scotland, Wales and some parts of England, but are now on their way south to their wintering grounds in Africa. In the past week or so, there have been 64 sightings of Osprey across the UK, so there are definitely signs of migration happening right now.

Osprey by Hugh Insley

As for the week ahead, the winds are staying a constant South, South-Westerly, so you can expect more sightings of Shearwaters along the south west coast, but in terms of migrants, maybe we will see some more Pied Fly’s, Redstarts and Whinchats, but the weather isn't looking promising for any rarities along the east coast, but you never know! On the scarce and rarer front, maybe a few more Wilsons Petrels that have been sighted on the Isles of Scilly Pelagics and south-west Ireland, or maybe even a rare Shearwater, like a Macaronesian Shearwater or another Fea’s Type Petrel.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Shear delight

With the right weather conditions - low pressure weather systems crossing the Atlantic - August is the best month to get to grips with a few shearwaters, and the south-west and southern Ireland is the place to be. During the week there have been small numbers of Cory’s, Great and Sooty Shearwaters off Cornish headlands and Isles of Scilly pelagics, along with Manx Shearwaters and small numbers of Balearics.

Cory's Shearwater by Joe Pender

Now tern numbers have started to build skuas have started to move too, Pomarine, Arctic and Great Skuas have all been seen on the move in that last few days.
Waders are still on the move and the adult birds that have been around for a few weeks are being joined by juveniles. There has been an increase in the number of Wood Sandpipers on the move and Curlew Sandpipers are turning up too.

Pied Flycatcher by John Harding

On the passerine front, Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts are being seen at coastal watchpoints and Sedge Warbler numbers are growing in southern reedbeds.
Highlight of the week on the rarity front has to be the three or four Black Storks that have been found, two of them, one in Aberdeenshire and the other in east Yorkshire, are youngsters from the same nest in northern France.

Wryneck by Jill Pakenham

The weather forecast for the next week is a bit of a mixed bag. During Saturday into Sunday we should see some southerly airflow, courtesy of high-pressure extending well into France, this may well bring the odd southern European migrant with it. Maybe one or two more Black Storks, or Hoopoe and Alpine Swift. As the week progresses the winds will turn south westerly and westerly, possibly good news for west coast seawatchers, and by the middle of the week the wind will be coming from the north east, perhaps it is a little early for Barred Warbler and Wryneck but you never know.