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.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Kittiwakes moving through

The cold northerly and westerly winds during the last week or so have pretty much put the brakes on the arrival of any early summer migrants. However, a small number of hardy individuals did make it here. At least three Sand Martins have been seen in the last week - the first at Frampton-on-Severn, Gloucestershire on the 5th March followed by further singles in Glamorgan, West Midlands and Carmarthen. An Osprey was notedin Cheshire, two Stone Curlews back on their heath in Suffolk, and a handful of Wheatears were reported from scattered sites in the south.

Wheatear (Moss Taylor)

Much further south, House Martins, Swallows and the first Pallid Swifts are back on their breeding territories in southern Spain. Black Kites and Short-toed Eagles have been seen leaving North Africa and crossing the Straits of Gibraltar. The BTO-tagged Cuckoos are also moving on from their winter territories and are beginning to head north to make the perilous journey across the Sahara. Spring is coming.

A feature of the last week has been the surprising number of Kittiwakes spotted at inland sites across central and southern England. The majority of records involved single birds on larger lakes and reservoirs, but three were noted at Calvert Lakes in Bucks and two even visited the BTO's Nunnery Lakes reserve on the 3rd March. The day before 150 had been seen from Severn Beach, Gloucestershire. Could these birds (and more) have followed the Severn upstream and then moved broadly east towards the North Sea?

Kittiwake on the Nunnery Lakes (Stephen McAvoy)

Although the weather might have stalled spring migration so far, it looks like there may be a change on the cards over the weekend and early next week with some southerly winds forecast. It is still early in the season, so the floodgates aren't likely to open just yet. A few more Chiffchaff, Wheatear and Sand Martin should arrive, along with perhaps the odd Swallow.

Paul Stancliffe & Stephen McAvoy

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