Swifts, by Philip Croft / BTO

BirdTrack migration blog (26 April–2 May)

Paul Stancliffe

Paul Stancliffe

Guest writer

Paul was formerly the BTO Media Manager and regular author of the BirdTrack migration blog. He is now making a special guest return from his new home in Portugal.

Relates to projects

Last week’s blog predicted the possible early arrival of Bee-eaters in the UK. Sadly, the only individual recorded was a bird found dead in a Dorset garden. Continuing the theme, Bee-eaters are still moving in strength through southern Europe. The weather forecast for the next week promises favourable conditions for the arrival of birds from the south and south-east, and Bee-eaters are likely to be among them.

The weekend will be a mixed bag. Southerly winds from the central Mediterranean and across France on Saturday will almost certainly bring an arrival of summer migrants, with south-east England looking likely to receive the lion’s share. However, towards the end of the weekend a low over northern Britain will result in northerly airflow for most of the country. The south coast may well be the place to be during Sunday and Monday. Any migrants making their way north could be grounded on the coast by the stiff northerly winds.

For the rest of the week, the winds are going to swing all over the place but there is a promising bout of south-easterlies forecast for mid week, coming all the way from central Europe. Wood Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper may well put in an early showing on east coast marshes, along with an arrival of Lesser Whitethroat.

Look out for Curlew Sandpiper in the coming week, passing through on their way to their Siberian breeding grounds.

The end of the week could see southerlies originating from the northern Mediterranean. Right now in central Portugal, Swifts are on the move and the first Golden Orioles and Melodious Warblers have begun to arrive. If you haven’t already seen your first Swift, you almost certainly will during the next week as a mass arrival is on the cards in these conditions. There will almost certainly also be a further arrival of Golden Orioles, with one or two Melodious Warblers also a strong possibility.

Interestingly, there has been an obvious movement of Zitting Cisticolas too. An overshooting Zitting Cisticola would be well received, and certainly not out of the question, if the forecasted weather conditions materialise. It could turn up almost anywhere!

This week should also see a further arrival in numbers of our summer warblers. Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Grasshopper Warblers should be widespread by the end of the week, along with Whitethroat.

Whitethroats have been arriving in the UK since the start of April. Numbers will continue to build until the middle of May.

Of course, at this time of the year it isn’t just about arrivals. The southerly airflow this coming week will aid the mass departure of any lingering winter visitors. Look out for any remaining ‘winter’ geese and swans as they head north and leave for their summer destinations.

It looks like it could be quite an exciting week! If I could choose one place to be in the UK, it would be the east coast on Wednesday into Thursday. Although perhaps a little early, I would be keeping an eye out for a Wryneck or two.

Wrynecks are primarily seen in the UK on passage in the spring and autumn.

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