Migration news 28 October 2010
Editor's update 30 November: thanks for all the waxwing sightings you've posted here. We're trying to keep them all in one place for everyone's convenience so please if you've seen one tell us about it on our dedicated waxwing sightings blog post.
Well waxwings have certainly arrived as we predicted in last week's blog, and they have arrived in force! It's fantastic to read in your comments that many of you have already encountered these exquisite northern visitors. Waxwings normally arrive in the north and slowly filter southwards, but this autumn has been a little different.
They have arrived en masse across a broad swathe of the north, northwest and east of Britain, with the biggest numbers in the Western Isles. However, there are still remarkably few birds south or west of a line between the Isle of Man and London so many observers will still need to hang on a bit longer for their first waxwings; we're still waiting expectantly for our first ones near BTO headquarters here in Thetford.
Waxwing sightings October 2010 (copyright BirdGuides/www.birdguides.com)
Unlike waxwings, the equally eye-catching bearded tit is not a species that birdwatchers usually associate with migration. Having said that, there is always some local dispersal in autumn and the BirdTrack reporting rate does show that bearded tits are encountered more frequently at this time of year than any other. Interestingly there have been several recent reports from coastal sites of small flocks seen arriving over the sea, suggesting that there may have been an influx of continental birds in the last couple of weeks.
Bearded tit (photo copyright: Alan Garner)
Although the main migration season has started to draw to a close, there are still a few latecomers to look out for in the next few weeks. If the winds drop enough next week, starlings could make the crossing from the continent, though the relatively warm weather and potentially strong southwesterlies might make them delay their journey. Either way it won't be too long before we can enjoy the fabulous spectacle of winter starling roosts.
Starlings (photo copyright: Jill Pakenham/BTO)
If the winds really do whip up, a few seabirds might be blown inland to reservoirs like Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire, and on the rarity front, an unusual seabird like a Brunnich's guillemot drifting past a northerly headland could be a good bet too.