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, 15 February 2018

Finches on the move?

The last week has seen the number of Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Siskins build in a few BTO staff member’s gardens here in Thetford. It has been a very quiet winter for all three so we are almost certainly experiencing a movement of these birds through the area. Presumably these are birds that have been wintering south and west of here and are moving north and east in preparation for the forthcoming breeding season. The BirdTrack graphs for Chaffinch and Goldfinch show the upturn of both species well. It is interesting to note that Chaffinch is well below its historical average, probably as a result of fewer birds crossing the North Sea last autumn.

All of the satellite tagged Cuckoos that we are currently following have made a move north; Selborne currently leads the pack and has moved further west in the last couple of days into Guinea. In 2017 he crossed the Sahara on 25 March, having arrived in West Africa on 2 February. It is fascinating to think that along with the Cuckoos many of our summer migrants will already be on their way back too. House Martin and Swallow have already been recorded in southern Europe.
Follow the Cuckoos here as they make their way back.

Closer to home, Red-throated Divers are on the move, with double figure counts past several coastal watchpoints and Wigeon numbers are also beginning to build at east coast sites.

Red-throated Diver by Andy Mason

With lots of birds redistributing around the country now is a great time to look for rarer geese amongst the flocks of commoner species. Flocks of Pink-footed Geese are worth checking for Tundra Bean, and Red-breasted Geese have been known to associate with them too.

Iceland Gull by Scott Mayson

White winged gulls are also on the cards as they too begin to move back north, Iceland and Glaucous Gulls can turn up almost anywhere at this time.

Scott Mayson and Paul Stancliffe