Thursday, 10 November 2016

October thrush migration in Falmouth

Although more or less at an end now, the last three weeks has been utterly fantastic for witnessing thrush migration here in Falmouth. After delighting as the first few 'seep' calls heralded the arrival of the autumn's first Redwings back at the beginning of October, the ensuing weeks saw a superb migration take place. The weather conditions have of course played their part, with high pressure sat over the British isles for much of the month, pulling in an air stream from the north-east and giving these Scandinavian wanderers an easier journey.

Visible migration of thrushes and finches reached its climax just over a week ago, with daily counts of Redwings into the thousands, occurring in an intense period of time lasting from just before sunrise to about an hour and a half afterwards. The best places to see the migration for myself was, rather conveniently, right outside my humble abode near Argal Reservoir in Penryn. Stepping out of the caravan at sunrise to the sound of Redwing flocks bombing overhead and the cackling 'yack-yack-yacks' of Fieldfares was fantastic. Witnessing the 'vis-mig' has been great on campus too, where I've joined a few other keen birders like Liam Langley, Calum Urquhart, James Beaumont, Max Thompson and many others to enjoy the spectacle.

I thought I would note down some of the best days of migration that I've seen, and include a few facts and figures from the passage from my recordings. 

As I said before, I saw my first Redwings on 7th October, with the first big day of passage three days later. Here are some of the top days for passage...

- 10th October: 1, 111 Redwings and 24 Song Thrushes noted flying north-east in flocks up to 112 between 0755-0855

- 12th October: 956 Redwings, 29 Song Thrushes and 16 Blackbirds noted heading north-east over campus between 0750-0900

- 19th October: 666 Redwings flew north-east between 0800-0900

- 21st October: 574 Redwings, 19 Song thrushes and 13 Fieldfares heading north over my caravan from 0720-0830 in cold conditions with a light south-westerly breeze

- THE BIG DAY 22nd October: over 10,000 Redwings, 544 Fieldfares, 62 Song Thrushes, 67 Chaffinches, 23 Skylarks, 62 Meadow Pipits and one Mistle Thrush. All flying north-east between 0720-0910, with biggest Redwing flocks over 1000 birds in size, and stretching for over 1km! Conditions: light E breeze (headwind), 80% cloud cover and cold

- 31st October: another big day! 6330 Redwings, 269 Fieldfares, 38 Chaffinches, 47 Skylarks and 8 Song Thrushes heading north-east over the caravan between 0700-0830 

After the final day of October, passage seemed to peter off quite quickly, with just slight movements over the last week. It was pretty incredible at peak intensity though, and hearing their calls during the night was great too! One of the best visible migration spectacles I have seen in the UK, and all just out of my front door!


Song Thrush

In praise of visible migration...
Fieldfare flock

Redwing flock



 Mistle Thrushes

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