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Latest migration news 16th October 2009

Martin Hughes-Games Martin Hughes-Games | 13:46 UK time, Friday, 16 October 2009

Now then! For all you really keen birders - and anyone who just likes a good story - here's something new. Every week we'll be bringing you the latest bird migration news direct from our friends at the BTO.

While researching Autumnwatch, we talk to the BTO every week. So, we thought, why keep it all to ourselves? So here it is: a look back to events over this week, a look forward to next week with some weird and wonderful stories that have come to light from bird-ringing efforts.

Mid-October is a really exciting time of the year for birdwatchers. The last of the summer migrants can be seen alongside the first of the winter visitors. The arrival of redwings from Scandinavia earlier this week, exactly as predicted by Chris, proved the point.


The redwing is one of our first winter visitors

Large numbers were recorded along the east coast of Britain, from the Firth of Forth to Suffolk, and they were quick to move inland: over 30,000 birds were counted over the Pinnacle in Bedfordshire alone. The west didn't lose out either as birds filtered right across the country.

The BirdTrack weekly reporting rate graph for redwings quickly showed this influx, spiking dramatically from Saturday onwards.

Other notable arrivals this week have included bramblings (a close relative of the chaffinch) and rock pipits (the latter mainly in coastal areas), both from Scandinavia

So what should we be looking out for over the next week? Golden plovers will continue to arrive in force and are likely to become more noticeable in roadside fields, often in the company of lapwings. There should also be more redwings to come and the first major arrival of their close relative, the fieldfare. Like redwings, this species will arrive on the east coast before moving inland, in search of suitable feeding areas. Often the first sign of a flock approaching is the "chak-chak-chak" calls as the individual birds within the flock maintain contact with each other. They will start to tuck into windfall apples and hawthorn berries.


Golden plover, copyright Jill Pakenham/BTO

The Ringing Office had some great stories this week. A Manx shearwater ringed on the Isle of Rum in 1984 was retrapped there this summer. What's so amazing about this is that this is the first time this bird has been seen anywhere in the last 25 years, and even more amazing, it will have almost certainly spent the last 25 winters off the coast of Argentina and all its summers on Rum. During its time this bird will have travelled somewhere in the region of 350,000km, this is almost the distance from earth to the moon!

A snow goose, ringed at Port na Luing, Isle of Coll on 6 July 1999 was found dead 54km away on the Isle of Canna. While this is not a great distance, this is only the fourth ever snow goose to be recovered in the UK.

Finally, oystercatcher FV08109 has been retrapped at Waterfoot, Dumfries and Galloway. It was ringed 34 years earlier at Point of Ayr, Clwyd. Tthis is a good age for an oystercatcher, but the oldest beats it by two years. Incidentally, oystercatcher FV08109 is now known as FP82954. Its old ring had to be replaced as it had begun to wear through!


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