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, 1 April 2016

Migration getting started at last

Migration has been slow going until last weekend, but things have noticeably picked up since then with a change in wind direction. Chiffchaff, Wheatear, Sand Martin and Swallow were much more in evidence around the country and the first Reed, Sedge and Willow Warblers arrived.

Pipits were on the move as well. Spurn, Yorkshire recorded 357 Meadow Pipits on 30 March and 300+ moved through Portland, Dorset on the same day. On the west coast, 100+ were counted daily on Bardsey, Gwynedd the past week.

Firecrest by Graham Clarke

The highlight of the week was a big arrival of Firecrests along the south coast, with 101 counted at Dungeness, Kent on the 26 March. This local record tally was beaten just four days later with an amazing 120 Firecrests on site. A handful of other sites reached double-figures and the species was noted at many coastal watchpoints.

Reporting rate of Firecrest on Birdtrack

The south-westerly winds during the week also gave returning winter visitors a helping hand. Brent Geese were noted moving east off Portland, while Redwing and Fieldfare have also been on the move. Surprisingly few Ring Ouzels have been reported so far, but counts should pick up later this month.

There has been a distinct dearth of rarer spring migrants with only a few unconfirmed reports of Alpine Swift. Likely candidates to look for this week include Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike and potentially a rarer warbler such as Sardinian.

Woodchat Shrike by Stephen McAvoy

The forecast for the next few days shows more southerly winds which would help migrants cross the Channel and the North Sea. However, from the middle of next the week there is a potential return to cool north-westerly winds which could migration on hold again.

Paul Stancliffe and Stephen McAvoy

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