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, 18 March 2016

Migration blocked

The high-pressure that is currently sitting over most of the British Isles is producing fronts along its flanks and a predominantly north-easterly airflow that is pretty much blocking migration from further south. The relatively light winds, at times, have let a few migrants through but it has very much been a trickle, not a flood.

Sand Martins, Wheatears and Chiffchaffs have arrived in small numbers and there has been one or two Swallows arriving with them but even with this arrival things are very slow. Looking at the weather charts for the next few days it looks like things aren’t likely to change very much.

Chiffchaff by Amy Lewis

All of the BTO satellite tagged Cuckoos have now left the Congo rainforest, four are in West Africa and three are in the Central African Republic. We expect the first of them to cross the Sahara in the next week or two.

Blackbird by Jez Blackburn

Going north, birds have definitely been on the move. The number of Whooper and Bewick’s Swans are falling rapidly, Pink-footed Geese have been seen over the Pennines in good numbers, and ringers have seen long-winged Blackbirds with high fat scores in gardens in the east, birds that could be crossing the North Sea any day now.

Although the forecast isn’t looking too promising there will be a period of light east, north-east winds over the Channel on Sunday/Monday, and they might just be light enough to allow any birds that are held up further south to move. If this is the case, it will be more Sand Martins, Wheatears and Chiffchaffs, with maybe a few Ring Ouzels, Garganey and Swallows thrown in.

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