Sunday, 1 June 2014

Early summer migration


There are some advantages of being a dog-owner and birder. Certainly most of the birds that Eleanor sees and hears are while she is out exercising both herself and our pack.  My contributions to the dog walking regime are much more minimal, but we have developed a routine over the years whereby I take the dogs out last thing at night.

Whilst out at night, even for just a short period, it is rare not to hear birds calling. Sometimes it is just bickering birds roosting together, and of course owls are vocal for most periods of the year, but often fly-over migrants are detectable by sound.  Probably the most consistently heard bird for me during the relevant period is the Redwing, a particularly resilient migrant that can be heard calling in all weathers. For me this species is one of our most iconic of migrants.  

During the winter wildfowl are regularly heard, sometimes just the sound of the 'singing' wings as they motor overhead, but often vocal calls too.

Many people are surprised when I say that I regularly hear Moorhens and Coots calling as they fly over, and judging from the calls they are flying slowly at low altitude.  And this is not a winter theme, in fact I hear them during the summer as much as any other season.  Where they are going and what drives them to move around at such times is one of the wonderful mysteries that stimulates my interest in bird migration.

Just gone midnight this morning and it was very still as I meandered my way back home after a short nocturnal walk below the village, and in the space of ten minutes, singles of Coot, Moorhen and a beautifully trilling Whimbrel all over-flew the village.

Anyway, back to more traditional birding methods!  This morning Eleanor enjoyed an early walk at Harrington Airfield and saw a 'cream-crown' Marsh Harrier (possibly a young male), two Turtle Doves, a singing Grasshopper Warbler and heard a Quail that called just the once.  A Roe Deer showed itself, one of several records from here recently...


Neil M
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