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Record bird migration to UK

[Monday 22 September 2008]
Record migration of birds hits UK
Record migration of birds hits UK

BRITAIN is seeing the biggest inward migrations of small birds from the European mainland, says the latest report from the British Trust for Ornithology.

This is the time of the year when birds arrive here in large numbers to escape the more severe winters of Northern Europe – but many of this year’s arrivals have come from further south, possibly blown across the channel by strong south easterly winds.

The BTO organises the world’s biggest on-line bird tracking census called BirdTrack along with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and this weekend it reported that eastern visitors were arraiving “en masse.”

Says the report: “Large numbers of redstarts and pied flycatchers are being reported.. Both of these birds would normally be on migration on the other side of the North Sea, heading south for the Mediterranean, and then onto to Africa and their winter homes south of the Sahara.”

Mark Grantham, a population biologist running the BirdTrack survey, said, “Every autumn we see small numbers of these birds, but what has been unusual this year is the large numbers involved. South-east winds have drifted birds over the North Sea and birds have been seen at many coastal watch-points, but some of these birds are also making it inland. These have been seen in local parks and even in people’s gardens.”

Pied Flycatchers are brown and white (appearing black and white at a distance) and catch flies from exposed perches, and Redstarts have a bright red.

  • Both of these birds can turn up unexpectedly in gardens on migration during September and October, so you might not have to travel long distances to find them. To report a sighting, visit www.birdtrack.net and register for the free survey.

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