Monday 8 October 2018

Vizmig season begins

I had a nice little jaunt out to Rainham Marshes on Sunday with one of the kids, picking my fifth London (and third Rainham) Cattle Egret, as well as jamming a Great Skua going up the river and over the tip almost as soon as I arrived, but the real interest at the moment is in the sky. Visible (or in some cases audible) migration is starting. Of all of the things that occur on the patch, the spectacle of visible migration is perhaps the most exciting. Yes we find Redstarts and Ring Ouzels in bushes, but for sheer thrill there is not a lot to top the mass movement of birds overhead. 

It is starting now. I cannot say that either this weekend or this morning counted as a mass movement, but Saturday was notable for the first Redwing and Fieldfare of the autumn. This morning there were even more, I counted around 140 Redwing before I had to go to work, of which 80 were in a single flock headed west. They are amongst the most evocative of the passage birds due to their soft seeep as they pass over. The first few times you hear it after an absence of perhaps six months you can't quite place it - or at least I can't. And then you remember, and the memories come flooding back. And from that point on you're "on it" and every passing bird is noted. There are Finches too, and Buntings - indeed this morning a Yellowhammer went over, first north, and the a few minutes later back south again. This is an annual bird, like Woodlark, but we do not get very many here despite them breeding only a few miles away. That habitat is open fields and hedgerows though, something Wanstead just cannot offer.

I suspect the next few days will mainly be about Thrushes though, perhaps with Fieldfare numbers picking up. My experience in Wanstead this morning mirrored that elsewhere, with Redwings outnumbering their larger cousins by many multiples. The balance will swing at some point I expect - my past records indicate that towards the end of October we can perhaps expect a complete reversal. Fieldfare too make their presence known overhead - a husky chacking. Soon that too will be engrained in my head as I strain to pick up moving birds in the half light of the early morning.

Redwing, Iceland

Fieldfare, Essex

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