Wednesday, October 23, 2019

An Outstanding Event

This morning saw a heavy and highly visible migration of northern thrushes through our Oakenclough ringing site.  Andy, Bryan and I met at 0645 with nets up and set ready for 0715. 

We caught very few birds in the less than ideal conditions of a 12/14 mph southerly wind and bright sunshine on one net, but witnessed an impressive movement of Northern thrushes based almost entirely on North West to South East flight lines 

Our tally of ringing was just 12 birds - 9 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Blackbird, 1 Robin. 


Song Thrush  

These nine birds were a tiny part only of a count from 0800 to 1100 that saw approximately 3800 thrushes - 2300 Fieldfares and 1500 Redwings. 

All was quiet until about 0800 when the influx of Redwings and Fieldfares began from the direction of the coast and Morecambe Bay some 15 miles away. It was slow at first, mainly Redwings then as the light and visibility improved we realised that a heavy movement was on the cards. So it began with flocks of anywhere between five, fifty and three hundred thrushes, mostly mixed. There was always a majority Fieldfare configuration, especially in the latter stages when good numbers arrived from a more northerly, even north easterly direction, flying quite low against the now fresh southerly wind. 

The plantation has a heavy and very brightly coloured crop of hawthorn and rowan berries that the thrushes targeted as soon as they landed. 

Redwing and Fieldfare


Other birds were in the mix, one or two Song Thrush, Blackbird and Mistle Thrush but almost certainly more in the general melee of hundreds of overhead birds. Otherwise- 25+ Chaffinch, 30 Woodpigeon and one Sparrowhawk that hunted the arriving thrushes. 

A further sighting was of three Jays, an essentially sedentary species unless acorn crops fail, when they must migrate to other areas for food. Such years may result in quite large numbers of Jays being seen on visible migration. This may be the case this year with many reports of Jays in unusual and non-regular locations. 

Eurasian Jay 

In recent days I looked on local Whats App Birding and Bird News, Twitter and Facebook but found no messages, posts or apparent interest in this once in a year spectacle. It would appear that Redwings and Fieldfares are not rare or exciting enough to merit a mention. 

The absolute best local web and information site I know belongs to Bryan Yorke, who come rain or shine, conducts daily visible migration counts at Burton in Kendal,  Arnsideand Silverdale Blog , some 20 miles just north west of Okenclough.  His sightings and counts give a useful comparison to our own. Bryan's very low counts from today seem to point to this morning’s thrushes taking both more coastal and also inland Pennine routes. 

"Wednesday 23rd October 2019 Taylors Fields, Vicarage Lane, Burton In Kendal 0730hrs" 

"Obviously the thrushes were not about other than a sprinkling which seemed to be going in various directions."

"Chaffinch: 306 (282 SE and 14 W) 
Linnet: 216 (213 SE and 3 SW) 
Redpoll: 3 SE (one party) 
Greenfinch: 1 SE 
Alba Wagtail: 11 SE 
Skylark: 6 SE 
Fieldfare: 98 (20 W/SW,10E,4E,4E,6NW,9W,30SW,15N) 
Redwing: 171 (5SW,3SW,30SW,12SW,50SE,1E,6E,30SW,10SW,9S/SW,5SW,10SW) 
Starling: 50W (15,2,4,5,20,4) 
Woodpigeon: 29 NW 
Pink Footed Goose: 6 SE at 1135hrs" 

Back soon folks. Keep logging in for more news, views and photos.

Linking this post to Anni's Birding Blog.


Lowcarb team member said...

Whenever Eddie and I come up your way, we always enjoy a walk around Morecambe Bay :)

We do have some blue jays that visit us from time to time, I love their colours. Sorry, I don't know enough about birds … I will have to look up how the Eurasian Jay and the blue jay differs, from your pictures they look so similar.

Happy midweek wishes, this month is flying by too quickly.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Hello again Phil.
Having consulted Dr Google and some bird sites! I think what I call the blue jay is actually an Eurasian jay … I'm learning slowly! LOL!

All the best Jan

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Hello Phil: I am struck by the picture of the Song Thrush where you can really see the affiliation with our own American Robin. At a first glance one could be forgiven for thinking it was a juvenile of the latter species. Too bad the winter thrushes don't get their due, a regular movement of ordinary birds not considered exciting, I suppose, but for me it is far more satisfying than a single rarity, chased after by so many. It is this ebb and flow of the birds with the seasons that symbolizes our passion for these creatures.

Wally Jones said...

Any day where one observes nearly 8,000 birds is a good day, in my humble very amateur birder opinion.

The images of birds-in-hand certainly provides a perspective those of us who don't participate in ringing that is unique. Thank you for sharing!

Migration here is in full swing for warblers and their allies, sparrows should show up soon with waterfowl to follow. Lots of fun out there!

We hope your week will bring even more migrants to your waiting nets!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

The Jays have the most beautiful wing feathers. Looks like an artist wanted to try out some different types! Love learning more about the birds there and what you see. Enjoy your weekend!

Hootin' Anni said...

My gosh Phil...the numbers seen are phenomenal! And such beauties they are. Migration never lasts long enough for a birder. But, there is always another upcoming season to look foward to soon.

Thanks for stopping by I'd Rather B Birdin and sharing your post. Your visit is appreciated!

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