Tuesday 23 September 2008

Right on call

On the Northern Isles today: Pallas' Grasshopper Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Lanceolated Warbler, Red-throated Pipit, Yellow-browed Warblers, Barred Warbler, Marsh Warbler and other drift migrants.

With the easterly airflow being maintained over the next few days there should be more in the way of eastern vagrants. There is an occluded front over the south-east which could generate fall conditions there. With the persistence of this weather system, vagrants should penetrate further west- maybe Scilly and places like the Western Isles. Looks set for a continuing good week.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Looking good

Weather forecast for this coming week- a strong conveyor belt of east winds right across the continent. There are few obstacles to migration for any vagrants which are heading this way. In fact there is a bit of tail wind to help them. Should be plenty of continental drift migrants too. Good for birds from the east (near and far), bad for birds from the west- but there are always exceptions.

In the absence of weather fronts to concentrate birds- drift migrants and vagrants could turn up on a broad front. Off shore islands don't need fronts to concentrate vagrants- they are concentration mechanisms in their own right and if migrants are on the move over a wide area- they will be drawn in. Good place to be this week- on some remote island.


A possible last thing a small mammal sees.
Fortunate group of visitors to Beddington (first time for some) who witnessed the Great White Egret- a one in (over) a hundred year event.

A first for the farm today, a Great White Egret, found by Grant and Frank Prater. There are four subspecies recognised: E.a alba (C Europe to C Asia), E.a. modesta (India to Australia), E.a melanorhynchos (Africa, S of Sahara) and E.a egretta (The Americas). Presumably this bird is of the nominate form alba.
In taxonomic terms Great White Egret is found within the order Ciconiiformes which is made up of three suborders- the Ardeae ( herons), Scopi (the hamerkop) and Ciconiae (storks, shoebill, ibises and spoonbills). Within the suborder Ardeae there is only one family the Ardeidae (herons) which is comprised of 17 genera, 60 species and 149 taxa. Great White Egret is in the genus Egretta (one of thirteen species) .
1 Great White Egret, present for 45 minutes in morning from 0845 before flying north-east. Visible migration: 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Siskin, 25+ Swallow, 4 House Martin, 15 Meadow Pipit, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Chaffinch

Saturday 20 September 2008

Canvey and Gunners Park, Essex


1 juv Osprey, 20+ Common Tern, 120+ Ringed Plover, 10 Dunlin, 300+ Brent Goose, 20+ Wigeon

Gunners Park

1 juv Dotterel (2nd for Southend Ornithological Group)

Saturday 13 September 2008


On a quick seperate note, yanks did turn up after all- a Red-eyed Vireo and a Western Sandpiper today found in Ireland, so not a bad call in the end-one day out.

This is not Eilat, this is Croydon. Between 1300 and 1500 at least four, possibly five Common Buzzards circled the farm, including three together on one occasion. The bird above looks very fresh with streaking on the breast, a characteristic of juvenile plumage, however eye colour is the best way to age these birds (not visible). Interestingly there was an influx of Honey Buzzards into Norfolk today, so these birds here may have been part of a wider movement of raptors.

A very pale distant Common Buzzard being mobbed by crows. This bird showed an abnormal white uppertail and was strikingly pale.

4-5 Common Buzzard, 3 Sparrowhawk, 1 Peregrine, 2 Kestrel, 1 juvenile Redshank, 1 juvenile Ruff, 7 Snipe, 1 juvenile Common Sandpiper, 15+ Swallow flew S, 12 Meadow Pipit flew S, 1 eclipse male Wigeon. 70+ Teal, 10 Gadwall, 40 Shoveler, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Little Grebe

Friday 12 September 2008

No Yanks

Well apart from a few American waders on the Azores and on the continent that system didn't really produce anything. Just shows that even when favourable weather occurs, unless there are an interplay of a number of factors, the system will be barren. The weather chart above shows the conditions the day before two Yellow Warblers, a Northern Waterthrush and a Solitary Sandpiper turned up in Ireland in late August this year. To my eye there is a fairly good situation for American vagrants with s a good westerly airflow but I have seen these conditions before that do not produce such an impact. The factors involved with generating transatlantic vagrants are quite complex- conditions in the source area must be suitable for migration inception and of course the birds have to be there and ready in the first instance. The condition of the migrants affected must also be taken into account- the species suite and their physical vulnerability to vagrancy. Once inception has occurred the deflection towards Europe has to occur, presumably ship assistance comes into play and then there is the factors of actually finding the birds when they make landfall. Because there are so many factors to consider, prediction is not an easy game.

Monday 8 September 2008

Yanks on the way?

This system is heading out of northeast Canada, sweeping past the Azores and then heading up to the UK. I predict a yank or two. We will see?

Sunday 7 September 2008

Beddington- Dip city

Wryneck by Johnny Allan, 070908- Despite this seemingly unmissable opportunity (it is being held- why did you let it go????)- this first for Beddington escaped me.
Shag and Cormorant by Grant Prater (last week- too gutted to remember)- identified from this photo

Weather chart (below) for 070809- showing that not all northwest winds are barren
Missed a Wryneck at the farm today- a first for Beddington. This bird is part of a major influx of continental migrants into the country- there are falls on the east coast with birds penetrating well inland and onto the west of the country. I also managed to miss Osprey, Arctic Tern and Black-tailed Godwit today. This adds insult to my injury of missing a Shag last week. I remain without a new bird for this year at Beddington, having clocked up three misses- Hen Harrier, Shag and now Wryneck. Will be my first year ever without a new bird unless my luck changes.

Typically north east winds generated over the North Sea are associated with this sort of influx of migrants. A process called drift. What is note-worthy about this event is that wind direction was northwest over Beddington, a wind direction not often associated with visible migration. However the bigger picture (above) shows that these northwest winds are simply a local change in direction of a larger system which is generating drift from the continent.

1 juvenile Ruff, 1 juvenile Knot, 3 juvenile Dunlin, 2 juvenile Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Hobby, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Willow Warbler, 40+ House Martin, 5 Sand Martin, 45+ Shoveler, 8 Gadwall, 10 Little Grebe, 10 Teal