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Latest migration news 27th November

Martin Hughes-Games Martin Hughes-Games | 10:15 UK time, Monday, 30 November 2009

(Martin's currently away filming in Siberia of all place. So I posted this for him - Jeremy, Autumnwatch web producer.)

Another wonderful weekly catch up on bird world news from our friends at the BTO.

Wild, wet and windy weather has dominated the weather this last week. Looking at the forecast it will continue to do so into the early part of this week.

Living on an island, when we experience 'big' weather there is always a chance that we will experience some unusual birds too. In that respect we haven't been disappointed. Blown in to inshore waters, Leach's petrels have been reported from Lancashire to Hampshire. Ordinarily, this song thrush sized bird spends its life out at sea or on an isolated island in the North Atlantic when breeding. This week, however, even land-lubbers have had the chance to catch up with this enigmatic bird.

Single Leach's petrels have been seen at Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire, Staines Reservoir, Surrey and on the William Girling Reservoir, London. Many more have been seen from coastal watchpoints. Exhausted birds are sometimes found well away from water, exemplified by a storm petrel (a close relative of Leach's petrel) that was picked up and taken into care six miles inland from Port Talbot in south Wales last week. Let's hope that one makes a full recovery!

Grey phalaropes often occur during the same weather patterns as Leach's petrels. During the last week several of these intriguing waders have been reported and once again, some of these have been from land-locked waters. What makes phalaropes unusual for a wader is that they are more often seen swimming on the surface of the water than 'wading'.

grey phalarope

With more of the same weather forecast for the next few days it is worth getting out and checking your local, gravel pit, reservoir, village pond or canal. You never know you might be lucky enough to find one of these northern seafarers, even if you are no where near the sea.

For those that have been following the swallow migration, it is interesting to note that two have been seen today in Gloucestershire, with another in Lothian. Will these birds make it to South Africa? Probably not. It is highly likely that the weather will change and these birds will find it increasingly difficult to find food, not being able to get far enough south quickly enough to ensure warmer temperatures and the availability of airborne insect food. However, in 2007 and 2008 swallows managed to survive the winter in both Cornwall and Pembrokeshire (with a little help from their friends), so you never know.


  • 1. At 12:01pm on 05 Dec 2009, colin stares wrote:

    Hi I have this morning 5th dec. had an interesting bird land in my garden, I have identified it from my books and via the rspb website as an juvernille cuckoo, what an interesting looking bird this is in its dark brown bared plumage, is this a rare siting for this time of year?,the bird was spotted in Purton stoke, Nr Swindon,Wiltshire.

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  • 2. At 10:47am on 08 Dec 2009, BirdTrack Organiser wrote:

    Hi Colin. This is a very interesting and unusual record in that Cuckoos should be well and truly in Africa by now. If you have a photograph that will be very helpful.

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