Autumn's bird migration - winter arrives from across the North Sea


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With the wind coming from the east all week, hundreds of thousands of ‘winter visitors’ began to arrive on our east coast. Amongst the travellers, thrushes were well represented. Redwing, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird and Ring Ouzel all arrived in force. Almost 22,000 Redwings were counted at Spurn Point, East Yorkshire on Monday alone. Other late autumn migrants arrived with them, including ‘falls’of Robin and Goldcrest and a large movement of finches that mostly involved Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Brambling. Black Redstarts were also quite widespread.

Brambling by John Harding

The last few days have seen some of these birds begin to move west and this is definitely something to keep an eye out for this weekend. On my ten minute walk into the headquarters of the BTO this morning I observed several flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare flying over, so this weekend could be a good time to take part in the BTO Winter Thrushes Survey.

On Thursday the wind took on a more northerly element and prompted an increase in the number of redpolls on the move. Given the origin of the wind it is not too surprising that a few Arctic Redpolls were found amongst them. Although these colder Arctic winds have quite a wintry feel about them, Swallows and House Martin are still moving through some south coast sites in double figures.

With the first widespread frosts for this weekend and early next week, we could see some of these finches and thrushes moving into our gardens. Skylark, Woodpigeon, Lapwing and Golden Plover could begin their first ‘cold weather’ movements and could be seen almost anywhere.

Little Auk by Andy Mason

For those planning a visit to the coast, this weekend could see a large movement of Little Auks. This diminutive Arctic relative of the Guillemot can often be seen on inland waters too, particularly when there has been a large movement or after high winds.

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