Monday, 30 October 2017

Autumn Migration, 30th October 2017, 07:00 - 10:30

In the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to get to grips with autumn visual migration (vismig) over patch and I've been really enjoying it! Arriving just after dawn, it was evident that good numbers of Wood Pigeon were on the move again and by the end of the session I estimate that several thousand had moved through - one memorable flock passing only a few feet above my head! An amazing experience! I don't know who was more surprised? Me, by the sudden rushing/drumming of wind on feathers or the leaders of the flock which were unexpectedly confronted by a human figure on an otherwise deserted clifftop! The exact numbers were difficult to estimate this morning because with a light northerly wind veering to north easterly, the flocks were well spread over a broad front. Most flocks were heading inland in a north-westerly direction or across the Marshwood Vale rather than along the coast. For 2 1/2 hours from 7am Pigeon flocks were passing at regular intervals but most of the mass-movement had petered out by around 09:30.
But what about the finchesstarlings and pipits? Today, the number moving through patch were not as massive as some days last week. The Finch and Skylark passage continued until around 10:15. but by then the birds were passing at height above my observation point and so it became even more difficult to accurately record numbers.
On the surrounding hedges and at field margins there were a few Blackbirds and 2 Song Thrushes. I'm assuming that these were new overnight arrivals.
Temperature wise, the colder northerly winds over the weekend has led to a drop in overnight temperature and first thing this morning it was much colder, at around 4 degrees, but warming as the sun grew in strength. By the time I left a dragonfly and even a late Clouded Yellow butterfly were on the wing. My final counts from this morning's session are as follows which should all be read as minima.  All birds were heading W or NW unless otherwise noted.

Wood Pigeon 5 - 6,000
Song Thrush 4
Bullfinch 4
Redwing 2
Fieldfare 2 (first for me on patch this winter)
Starling 140
Jackdaw 86
Linnet 4 (East)
Skylark 9
Chaffinch 24
Meadow Pipit 2 (West), 10 (East)
Snipe 1
Goldfinch 2 (East)
Cattle Egret 1
Stock Dove 2
Greenfinch 2
Chiffchaff 1
Blackcap 1

So, no Ring Ouzel or Hawfinch yet for me which is disappointing, but a Cattle Egret (picked up in the 'scope over the fields while I was checking the Pigeon flocks) was a bonus as was the Snipe.

Breathtaking numbers of Wood Pigeon (estimate 5- 6,000 on passage again today) - these photos go nowhere near illustrating the spectacle but here goes anyway. Another brilliant morning on patch:

Butterfly - Clouded Yellow

Dragonfly - Male Common Darter


  1. Hi Richard. Common Darter that mate, a male. That and Migrant Hawker are often the last two species of the year on the wing. Glad you've caught the vismig bug, always welcome to join me one morning to help match the calls to the species.

    1. Cheers Steve, I'll update the blog. And thanks for the offer of a bit of vismigging down at Axe - I need all the help I can get! I'll give you a call. Thanks again