Autumnwatch & Springwatch

Unusual migration patterns

BTO

Autumn bird migration is always influenced by the weather, and so far this autumn that has very much been the case. Migration kicked off with a bang in the last week of August, when high-pressure developed over Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, perfect conditions for birds to move.

A flock of starlings

Around 40 greenish warblers, birds that should have been making their way from northern and Eastern Europe to spend the winter months in India, turned up in Britain on the resulting easterly airflow.

The same week also saw the first large movements of swallows, house martins and sand martins out of the country. It was to be another four weeks until these weather conditions occurred again and, during the last week of September, the UK saw an unprecedented arrival of birds from the east.

Perhaps as many as 1,000 yellow-browed warblers, also on their way to their wintering grounds in India, turned up on our east coast. Meanwhile migration watchers at coastal watch-points recorded a huge exodus of hirundines (swallows and martins), meadow pipits and finches, heading south to their wintering areas in southern Europe and Africa.

In recent weeks there has been a southerly, and at times, light and warm airflow bring a small influx of pallid swifts and hoopoes - birds that should have been heading south to Africa. These light winds have also allowed thrushes (redwings, blackbirds, song thrushes and fieldfares), starlings and finches such as chaffinches and bramblings to cross the North Sea to spend the winter here.

One this week’s stormy weather abates, we should expect further large arrivals of starlings, fieldfares and finches, as well as the first big arrival of whooper swans. Anticipation is also high for the arrival of birds from across the Atlantic: birds that are moving from North America to South America. We could well see a chimney swift, cliff swallow, yellow-billed cuckoo, or blackpoll warbler make landfall here – keep your eyes peeled.

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  • Comment number 349. Posted by johncliffe

    on 10 Nov 2013 20:20

    large flock of redwing seen today near Grantley North Yorkshire, We normally see them on our fields at Fellbeck but no sighting as yet.

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  • Comment number 348. Posted by johncliffe

    on 10 Nov 2013 13:20

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 347. Posted by Steve S

    on 8 Nov 2013 10:51

    Our first sighting of a solitary Fieldfare on one of our rowan trees this morning. Surrey near Caterham.

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  • Comment number 346. Posted by Mumbles Jill

    on 7 Nov 2013 14:40

    07th November 2013, Redwings have arrived on Mumbles Hill Nature Reserve Yipee !

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  • Comment number 345. Posted by DavidMdma

    on 6 Nov 2013 21:50

    Nice to see a large flock of Redwings today feeding on the last of the Sorbus berries in our garden at Emneth in West Norfolk

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  • Comment number 344. Posted by GM

    on 5 Nov 2013 14:07

    150-200 redwings on Applecross peninsula, NW Scotland during week 19-26 October - watched them strip an alder in the field below out cottage

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  • Comment number 343. Posted by saintdonards

    on 5 Nov 2013 11:22

    We have had a flock of Redwings in our garden (on the south coast of the Isle of Man) for the past week feasting on cotoneaster berries.

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  • Comment number 342. Posted by keith hull

    on 4 Nov 2013 20:58

    Saw about a flock of about 20 Redwing in the trees behind our house in Beacon Park Plymouth.

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  • Comment number 341. Posted by RichB

    on 4 Nov 2013 19:49

    Redwing flock over Marshfield in South Gloucestershire on Sunday 3rd November.

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  • Comment number 340. Posted by Bigal

    on 4 Nov 2013 19:42

    There have been small flocks of fieldfares locally in Herefordshire for several weeks but today I saw a redwing feeding on apples on our front lawn. It was quite close and the colours stood out. Gone before I could return with camera! We are near Leominster, in an apple growing area.

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