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 April 2016

Spring has (sort of) sprung

The warm southerly airflow over the last few days did result in an arrival of summer migrants, with most of the early season birds well represented. However, the floodgates haven't quite opened yet.

Most notable was the first flush of Common Redstarts, Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Grasshopper Warblers. Whilst quite a few Ospreys are back on their breeding grounds, with one pair at Rutland having already laid their first egg, others continue to arrive along the south coast. The first Reed and Sedge Warblers were also reported. Chiffchaff have arrived back and are well represented on complete lists submitted to BirdTrack.

Reporting rate of Chiffchaff this week on BirdTrack.

Common, Sandwich and Arctic Tern numbers have begun to build a little, and where there are terns, skuas are not far behind. Several south coast seawatches produced dark and light-phase Arctic Skuas.

A handful of early Common Swifts have also been reported, but overshooting southern breeders continue to be thin on the ground. The highlight was a single Woodchat Shrike in Cornwall, as well as a handful of Serin, Hoopoe and Wryneck. One of the latter ringed at Portland Bird Observatory aptly demonstrated the origin of its name.

Common Swift by Dennis Atherton/BTO

Hirundines have continued to arrive and are now being reported from most areas in the country. The first House and Sand Martins have even managed to reach Fair Isle in Shetland during the week.

Outgoing migrants have also taken advantage of the southerly airflow and numbers continue to fall. Brent Geese have been reported heading past east coast watchpoints along with Red-throated Divers and Common Scoters. Several of the latter have been reported from inland sites, including a female on a small lake in central London. Redwings and Fieldfares are beginning to feel decidely thin on the ground.

Reporting rate this year of Redwing on BirdTrack

The forecast for the next few days is currently very mixed, with cool north-westerly winds alternating with milder south-westerly winds. The latter may herald another strong arrival of migrants.

The rare bird to watch for this weekend is Alpine Accentor. It has been recorded only five times in Britain since 2000, with all sightings from the south and east coast. Prior to that, the species has been found in south Wales and even as far north as Fair Isle. Alpine Accentors appear to be on the move at the moment, with several birds recorded well away from their normal range in the montane regions of Europe. This included one flock of twenty birds near Frankfurt since Wednesday, as well as one in the Netherlands.

Paul Stancliffe & Stephen McAvoy

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