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Spring bird migration highlights - 13 May: rare waders galore

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 15:08 UK time, Friday, 13 May 2011

Although the predicted sociable plover failed to show, it's been an extraordinary week for migration, according to the BTO's Paul Stancliffe. Especially for rare waders. "At least three buff-breasted sandpipers were reported and singles of broad-billed sandpiper and Kentish plover in Cumbria, spotted sandpiper in Buckinghamshire, and lesser yellowlegs and great snipe in Norfolk," he says. "The snipe was in full display for one evening only."

rock bunting copyright Kevin Carlson/BTO

Rock bunting © Kevin Carlson/BTO

"Along with the collared flycatcher, mentioned in last week's post, Britain's fourth rock bunting, and the first since 1967, was seen and photographed in North Yorkshire and subsequently identified from the photograph. An audouin's gull in Suffolk took the British total to seven, and the 16th calandra lark was seen in Lincolnshire.

audouin's gull copyright Dawn Bulmer/BTO

Audouin's gull © Dawn Bulmer/BTO

"The distinct lack of common migrants at south coast watchpoints has caused observers there to lament the end of spring migration. Nothing could be further from the truth on the east coast. On Wednesday Spurn recorded one of its biggest swallow days so far this spring, when 3,356 were counted flying south. It's also been the best week of the spring for spotted flycatcher, and wader migration continues apace.

spotted flycatcher copyright Edmund Fellowes/BTO

Spotted flycatcher © Edmund Fellowes/BTO

"Things should be a little quieter this weekend as the weather changes and the winds come from the west. However, May is the best month of the year for an American sparrow to turn up. With low fronts tracking across the Atlantic, the safe money however is on white-throated sparrow, however, another lark sparrow would be very welcome."

Have you seen any of these rarities? Did you see the swallow invasion on the east coast? What have been your spring migration highlights so far? We'd love to hear.


  • Comment number 1.

    I saw the Spotted Sandpiper yesterday in Buckinghamshire. A cracking bird in breeding plumage. It got to within 20 metres at times. It didn't seem bothered by pedestrians at all. Alas, now it has flown. A first for me.

  • Comment number 2.

    can i ask anyone why is the resident blackbirds in my garden making such a noise from 4 in the morn till late at night but the noise is like a toy horn on my little ones car its funny!!

  • Comment number 3.

    @cooperman44 - very jealous!

  • Comment number 4.

    The rarest bird I've seen this spring is a Red-rumped Swallow at Dungeness, however, the highlight for me so far has been a memorable day on my local patch at Staines Moor, Surrey, where on one day I found a Whinchat, 2 Ring Ouzel, a Redstart, a Grasshopper Warbler and at least 20 Wheatears! (a few pics here - http://leedingain.blogspot.com/2011/04/more-migrants.html%29.

  • Comment number 5.

    It would be nice to see the Great Snipe in Britain although the displaying would be reduced as unlike other Snipe species it exhibits a lekking behaviour. Common and Jack Snipe and also Woodcock display in the air with calls and sounds made by vibrating tail feathers. Great Snipe display on the ground with up to 20 males bobbing, jumping in the air and clicking their bills to display to the females. Few waders exhibit this type of behaviour which is commoner in Grouse species, the only other European species being the Ruff. I have seen the Great Snipe leks in both Poland and Estonia with the displays being in marshy meadows with relatively long grass at dusk. The clicking and bubbling sounds are amazing as are the incredible numbers of biting insects in such habitats.

  • Comment number 6.

    We live close to The Solent/Isle of Wight and this year have seen just two or three swallows (so far), few house martins and no swifts. Where are they?

  • Comment number 7.

    hi all could you tell me if you think there are more deer this year as i have seen far more in my neighbourhood than ever before.

  • Comment number 8.

    I have a pair of spotted flycatchers nesting in my garden, this is the third year they have been here, how fantastic is that.

  • Comment number 9.

    I heard my first cuckoo of 2011 on Royal Wedding Day (April 29th) when walking the river Tame near the new RSPB sight at Middleton, near Tamworth.

    Today I heard a cuckoo for the first time in the 25 years in Cotteridge, South Birmingham. Is this unusual? Would it be passing through on it's way to a more rural location?

  • Comment number 10.

    I've been hearing and seeing corn buntings in a field on the floodplains of Tewkesbury

  • Comment number 11.

    I've got spotted flycatchers nesting in the bird-box on the side of my house. They have come every year since we moved in 7 years ago EXCEPT for last year. As you can imagine I was very pleased when I saw it collecting moss from our front lawn yesterday and ran upstairs to turn on the nestbox camera. There it was lining its nest! Now all I have to do is keep the corvids and squirrels away from the nest (which has been predated at least 3 times in 7 years).

    Jane @ Dorset Wildlife Trust

  • Comment number 12.

    we have a pair of bullfinches that come to the feeders,first time ive seen a pair.its great watching them


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