Snow Bunting. Paul Hillion / BTO

BirdTrack migration blog (7th - 13th October)

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Migration continues at a pace with some exciting rarities on our shores alongside our commoner species moving en masse to their wintering grounds.

Last week was very much a week of east meets west – a small number of Red-eyed Vireo, a Baltimore Oriole, two Swainson’s Thrush, a Buff-bellied Pipit and a Blackpoll Warbler hailed from across the Atlantic, whilst two Siberian Thrush, a White’s Thrush, a Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler and two Lanceolated Warbler all came from a long way east. The south was also represented with an Alpine Swift and a couple of Hoopoe.

Hoopoe are annual visitors to the UK, with about 100 birds visiting our shores each year. Last week, Hoopoe were recorded in Abergavenny (Gwent), Saltwick Nab (North Yorkshire) and Papa Westray (Orkney). Edmund Fellowes / BTO

Redwing also made the best of the easterly airflow on offer, arriving in most counties during the week. The easterly winds also brought a good number of Yellow-browed Warblers to our shores after a quiet year in 2021.

Listen out for Redwing's 'zeep' call at night. They've been recorded in pretty much every county, so there's a good chance some will pass overhead in the next week or so.  

Looking ahead

During the next week, westerly airflow is set to dominate with very little to no airflow from the east. However, there is a forecast early in the week for a short period of strong northerlies straight out of Iceland – this should result in a movement of Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Snow Bunting and Icelandic Redwing. The north-west of the UK is probably the place to be to see these migrants arrive, but as the week progresses many of these birds will filter south and east.

Whooper Swan. Sarah Kelman / BTO
Strong winds from the north are likely to bring a new arrival of wildfowl migrating from the arctic to their UK wintering grounds. Look out for Whooper Swan, especially in the north. Sarah Kelman / BTO
Brambling. Allan Drewitt / BTO
The north winds could also carry Brambling to our shores; look out for them in mixed finch flocks with Linnet and Chaffinch. Allan Drewitt / BTO 

As we head towards mid-October, finches will begin to move in earnest; Chaffinch, Linnet, Siskin and maybe a few Brambling will be aided by the northerly winds. Wagtails, in particular, the 'white wagtail' or ‘Alba’ Pied Wagtail, will also be on the move, joined by Skylark.

As far as rarities are concerned, the southwest may well be the best place to be - in the coming days, rare birds are likely to originate from North America. Once again, Red-eyed Vireo and Blackpoll Warbler are favourites but it is always worth looking out for Bobolink, and who knows? Maybe another Common Nighthawk or two. There could also be a few eastern birds still hanging around after arriving during last week’s easterly winds. 

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