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Latest migration news 30th October 2009

Martin Hughes-Games Martin Hughes-Games | 15:37 UK time, Friday, 30 October 2009

Here's the weekly bird world news for the week from 30th October direct from our friends at the BTO.

They're here! Fieldfares have started to arrive. A BirdTrack report of 8,000 individuals over the Humber Estuary on Tuesday (accompanied by 6,000 redwing) gives an idea of the scale of the arrival that happened this week. In Staffordshire and Cambridgshire, 3,000 and 1,466 flyovers the following day shows that migration doesn't just happen around our coasts.

The BirdTrack weekly reporting rate shot up as birders saw these Scandinavian immigrants pour in - a real sign of autumn.

A smartly-dressed member of the thrush family, fieldfares can be distinguished from their relatives by their grey hood, ruddy-brown back, grey rump and entirely black tail. Migrating flocks often communicate using a distinctive 'chack-chack-chack' call.

Fieldfare (photo copyright Jill Packenham/BTO)
fieldfare_jillpakenham.jpg

There has also been a dramatic rise in reports of lesser redpolls over the last couple of weeks. This is probably the result of birds arriving at wintering sites in central and southern Britain from further north. These small finches breed in Britain, Belgium, Germany, Holland and a few isolated mountain areas in southern Europe, including the Alps. They have a penchant for alder and birch trees and can sometimes be seen with their better-known relatives, siskins.

Look out for jays this week. They are quite secretive in the breeding season but become noisy and obvious in autumn. You can see them in woodland, parks and gardens at this time of year. I've seen them and heard their harsh calls right in the centre of Bristol and even around the main BBC Bristol site.

Jay (photo copyright Chris Bradley/BTO)
jay_chrisbradley.jpg

One things that makes them easier to see is their hording behaviour. They will return time and time again to a food source, such as a fruiting oak tree or birdtable, carrying off acorns or peanuts to bury for leaner times later in the winter. Jays can carry several acorns at a time, which explains why you may find a few oak seeds growing together in your lawn next year!

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