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.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Early movers

Although autumn is still some way off, migration is already in full swing with Cuckoo, seabirds and waders amongst others on the move. All of the BTO GPS-tagged Cuckoos have moved south and out of Britain. One of the tagged birds has already crossed the Sahara and is now in central Mali. The BirdTrack graph shows the drop off in recent records.

Reporting rate for Cuckoo

Juvenile Cuckoos will still be present into August and September before they too will depart to their winter quarters.

Cuckoo by Neil Calbrade

Seabirds are also on the move with the first Great and Cory's Shearwaters reported from seawatching sites in southern Britain and Ireland. Breeding in the South Atlantic, Great Shearwaters migrate north in spring (their autumn), spending the early summer off the east coast of North America. In July and August, they head south again, but on a more easterly track, passing western Europe and Africa. Strong winds, especially from the west or south-west, can push these highly oceanic birds closer to land, sometimes in spectacular numbers.

Great Shearwaters by Hannah Keogh (via the #Birdtrack Flickrpool)

Further coastal birds on the move included Arctic and Great Skuas, while small flocks of Common Scoters were noted passing coastal watchpoints in the last week. Looking ahead, the weather forecast is mainly for westerly winds and showers, conditions that look quite suitable for pushing skuas, shearwaters and other seabirds closer to shore.

Migrant gulls have also started arriving, including the first juvenile Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gulls. One of the latter on Fair Isle last week was only the second record for this remote island.

Mediterranean Gull by Stephen McAvoy

While the long-staying Great Knot in Norfolk got a lot of attention, other waders have been on the move. Green and Wood Sandpipers have been arriving, and a flock of 100 Curlews flew south past Landguard Bird Obs, Suffolk. Numbers of other arctic breeding waders will continue to build as adults and the first juveniles arrive in the coming weeks.

Finally, the first migrant Wheatear, Whinchat and Common Redstarts have been reported and 228 Sand Martins were seen moving south at Spurn, East Yorkshire on the 4th of July.

Paul Stancliffe and Stephen McAvoy

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