Sunday, 25 March 2012

Migrants continue to trickle through

Ring Ouzel

An unwelcome Buzzard

Brean Down: Similar weather conditions to yesterday with a slightly stronger cold NE wind keeping temperatures cooler for longer. A bigger variety of migrants today but no remarkable numbers from any. A Ring Ouzel and a Red-legged Partridge were the highlights. The two Red-legged Partridges along the road to Brean were again present this morning.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Willow Warblers and Redpolls on the move

Meadow Pipit

A virtually cloudless day with light north-westerly winds early morning. Brean Down: Small numbers of migrants passing through consisting mainly of Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Woodpigeons and Redpolls. Sand Point also recorded arrivals of Chiffchaffs and Redpolls. 2 Red-legged Partridge were found in fields on the road to Brean.

Woodcock satellite tracking can be found here:

Friday, 23 March 2012

Big fall of Chiffchaffs and Small Eggar visit

Small Eggar


I don't know why but for some reason my predictions are often on the day before the fall and this happened again on this occasion. The troughs developing off the south-east coast of Spain did become a series of fronts and did move north into the UK but not until later on the day of prediction and this I think is why my predictions are sometimes out by a day. Last nights temperatures were held up by the warm air dragged up from the south, humidity levels rose from 40% to 55% with just a light spell of rain at mid-night. Winds stayed light and variable until just before mid-night when they picked up to light northerly. Later in the early hours of the morning the winds swung to easterly and then south-easterly by dawn. This morning it was evident that there had been an arrival of Chiffchaffs. I made my way to Brean and could see Chiffchaffs in good numbers on the Down in excess of 30 birds.
On the moth front Small Eggar and Agonopterix alstromeriana in the garden trap were the highlights and an hours trapping on Brean produced: 2 Red Chestnut, Dotted Border, Early Grey, Mottled Grey, Twin-spotted Quaker, Hebrew Character, Common Quaker, Shoulder-stripe and March Moth.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

22nd March

Redpoll at Brean Down

Brean Down: Promising weather conditions this morning but work forced an early finish before much got going. Vismig highlights were 224 Meadow Pipits, 24 Siskin and a Redpoll.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

21st March

Brean Down: A bit of activity this morning until 7:15am when sharp drop off in numbers forced an abandoned count. 1 Swallow and 122 Meadow Pipits through were the highlights at Brean.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Wheatear migration


For anyone that hasn't seen this article; Wheatear migration paths have been mapped out more accurately thanks to hydrogen isotope analysis and tiny geolocators. Results showed individuals migration routes from Alaska to east Africa and Canada to west Africa:

Monday, 19 March 2012

19th March

Today's clement weather isn't usually productive on the bird front so I didn't bother going out this morning. Judging by the national grapevine, various patch websites and the Dutch radar I made the right choice having a lie in. The skies were cloudless today except for the typical cumulus clouds forming over hill ranges from rising ground temperatures.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

18th March

Stratocumulus with 400M cloud base containing a Bullfinch.

Brean Down. Light variable wind with bands of low level cloud clearing throughout the morning. Very little vismig on the Down and no arrivals of Wheatear or Chiffchaff by late morning. Passerine passage stayed at a trickle throughout the morning and gull passage never really got going either. I watched a Bullfinch take off from the trig point (90M above sea level) and circle gaining height for about 3-4 minutes until I lost it in the clouds possibly around 400 metres above sea level. I'd be tempted to say that many birds were going overhead undetected but the Dutch radar showed little movement and there was a big clear out the last two days so perhaps just a quiet day.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

17th March



Brean Down. Light NW wind swinging to light Southerly wind increasing in strength throughout the morning. Any low level cloud around was disintegrating rapidly. 2 Peregrines chasing birds very high up drew my attention to high altitude migrants which explained the lack of any sizeable vismig counts. However, 1,600 gulls were recorded moving west and heading out to sea past the south side of Steep Holm where St Donat's, Glamorgan looked to be the target.
A thrush movement noted overnight involving Redwings, Fieldfares and Blackbirds.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Migration starts up right on cue 16th March

The recent high pressure centred over the UK for the last few days has drifted off south-east leaving in its wake a south-westerly airflow strengthening throughout the morning from the low pressure replacing it from the north-west. Radar in the Netherlands picked up many birds over Netherlands, Belgium and parts of Germany moving north-east at altitudes ranging up to 2km throughout the night and still at 1pm today with arrivals also from the UK. A good number of migrants were recorded today throughout the county with Chiffchaff, Wheatear, Sand Martin and Swallow.
The sat tracked Osprey "09" is now in Western Sahara having recently covered 600 miles at altitudes up to 1km and speeds up to 51mph.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

11th March

Yellow Horned - Somerset Levels

Yellowhammer - Brean Down 11-3-12

Friday, 9 March 2012

9th March

Brean Down 10mph SW wind, 46f (40f wind chill): Passerine vismig down on yesterday due to the wind swing but a noteworthy passage of gulls (1,391 Herring and 205 Lesser Black-backed) seen filtering off the Mendip Hills. Totals: 1784 individuals, 11 species, 2:00 hours.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Brean Down 8th March

Pied Wagtail

Golden Plover

Brean Down: 7.5mph NNW wind, 42f (36f wind chill). A big Meadow Pipit push this morning between 6:40 and 8:40. Flocks mainly around 3 to 20 birds but 2 flocks of 60 went through. One of the alba wagtails was identified as Pied from photos. Nearly all passerines were again coming in from the south-east and heading NNW out to sea over Weston Bay. Totals: 991 individuals, 12 species, 2:00 hours which includes 760 Meadow Pipits.
Birds on the move in Northern Europe today included 2,700 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 10 Sandwich Tern, 39 Red Kite, 98 Crane and 2 Whimbrel

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Brean Down 6th March

Meadow Pipit


Brean Down: 40f (36f wind chill) and 3.5mph NW wind. Vismig now starting to pick up. A light but steady passage of passerines coming mainly from the south-east this morning. Pipits and finches made up the bulk whereas gull passage was at a virtual standstill by comparison to previous days. Totals: 176 individuals, 13 species, 1:30 hours.
The Norfolk satellite tracked Cuckoo's in the Congo have already started moving since the middle of February. Their progress can be viewed here:

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Brean Down 4th March

The trailing edge of a trough that went through mid morning

Brean Down. Low pressure moving east with several fronts including a trough that brought widespread rain to the county clearing by 10:30am. Nothing recorded moving during the front or up to an hour and a half after it had passed. A 13mph cold north-easterly wind brought temperatures down to 40f (31f wind chill).

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Brean Down 3rd March

Brean Down: 47f (40f wind chill), 15mph SSW wind and stratus cloud changing by 8:30 to 48f (44f wind chill) and 8mph SW wind and clearing sky to 20% cloud cover. 2 Black Redstart still present. Vismig tally for Brean Down: 1086 birds, 12 species in 2:45 hours.
Vismig highlights in Northern Europe today involved counts of 1025 Common Crane (Belgium, Denmark and Netherlands), 407 Woodlark (Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands), 100 Whooper Swan (Denmark, Netherlands, UK) and 1280 auk sp. (UK).

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Common Yellowthroat at Rhiwderin, Gwent

Common Yellowthroat

I went to see the Common Yellowthroat at Rhiwderin, Gwent on Saturday. Possibly not the best day of the week to go but by the time I arrived it was early afternoon and only 30 people were present. The bird had been present for over a week by that time so the masses would have largely been and gone. Although only showing briefly for seconds at a time the bird appeared to be quite actively feeding whilst I was there and showed a good amount of tolerance to the noisy audience. I first saw the Yellowthroat as it flew from one bramble to another. The jerky bounding flight action coupled with a Bearded Tit like call was very diagnostic. My next view of the Yellowthroat came when it hopped into view at ground level right in front of everyone and because most were chatting, texting, picking their nose or tying shoelaces only I saw it and managed one shot before it flew back into cover.
On one occasion the Yellowthroat had worked it's way through 20 metres or so of thick bramble reappearing on the other side. I don't recall having seen this behaviour before and think that this was achievable because the bird spent it's time hopping around on the ground.