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What To Look Out For October 2018

  • Mon 1st Oct, 2018

I am sure most people would agree that bird migration is one of the real wonders of the world. How do birds weighing no more than 5 grams migrate many hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles? Do tiny Goldcrests really fly across the wild North Sea? Or do they as east coast communities once though fly on the back of larger birds such as geese or woodcocks? Well of course birds can and do fly thousands of miles, they don’t hitch hike and the earth is not flat!

Bird ringing is a wonderful way we can learn about where birds go, when they leave, how far they travel and how quickly they can fly. With this information we can target conservation projects on their flyway to increase their chance of survival. The science behind bird ringing is fairly simple but birds can be injured in the process so you need to train for several years before you’re allowed out with a net and rings on your own. In 2002 I bought the Bird Migration Atlas published by the British Trust for Ornithology; this is by far the best bird book I ever bought. The results of many decades of voluntary work in one amazing book about virtually any British bird you could name.

September YCN/FBO/YWT Bird Migration Workshop © Richard BainesSeptember YCN/FBO/YWT Bird Migration Workshop © Richard Baines

But for some of the best migration stories you need look no further than our three Bird Observatories on the Yorkshire Coast; Spurn, Flamborough and Filey. October is one of the big months for bird ringing as hundreds of thousands of birds arrive and depart, and stop off for a breather and a bite to eat. The habitat at each Bird Observatory is carefully looked after to make sure each bird gets a proper meal and if they could drink Yorkshire tea….

September YCN/FBO/YWT Bird Migration Workshop © Richard BainesSeptember YCN/FBO/YWT Bird Migration Workshop © Richard Baines

So here are three of my favourite bird migration stories from one of our Bird Observatories, Filey Brigg on the Yorkshire coast written just after each event by Mark James Pearson (Filey Bird Observatory Communications Officer), you can feel the excitement in his words as the news of each ringing recovery came through.

The Fastest Redpoll in the West

Common (Mealy) Redpoll © Dan LombardCommon (Mealy) Redpoll © Dan Lombard

We've just received amazing news of a bird which we caught during our Ringing & Migration Week last month... a Common (Mealy) Redpoll bearing a Norwegian ring is exciting enough, but incredibly, we now know it was ringed on the island of Jomfrundland - the day before! It was ringed at midday on 21st Oct 2016 and we caught it at 0810 the next morning - that's 796km, in less than a day.... 796 km in 20 hrs = 40 km/hr.

Redpoll migration mapRedpoll migration map

The Woodcock Pilot

Goldcrest © Richard BainesGoldcrest © Richard Baines

Still can't get your head around the fact that a bird barely the length of your index finger and the weight of a 20p piece can cross the North Sea as a matter of routine? Well, here's proof.... a Goldcrest ringed at Svebolle, Bjergsted in Denmark on 2nd October 2016 was re-trapped by our ringing team here in Filey just five days later, having covered more than 750 km in the meantime!

Goldcrest migration mapGoldcrest migration map

Where do young Oystercatchers go after leaving home?

Oystercatcher Filey © Dan LombardOystercatcher Filey © Dan Lombard

Another fascinating ringing story just in, this time of a born-and-bred Filey Oystercatcher that was ringed as a chick at our East Lea reserve on 1st July this year (2016) and re-trapped down the coast by the Wash Wader Ringing Group at Wainfleet Marsh on 17th September 2016 - a testament to the conservation work at the reserve which included the creation of a bespoke gravel island, and also to the Benny Hill style capture of the chicks!

Oystercatcher migration mapOystercatcher migration map

Autumn 2018 Bird Migration Events

The northern two Observatories; Filey and Flamborough are holding a Ringing and Migration Week. This festival of birds takes place between the 13th and 21st October. All events are free and open to anyone who loves birds and wildlife. For more for more details Click Here.

YCN are holding a special Bird Migration Workshop on the 21st October in partnership with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Flamborough Bird Observatory for more details Click Here

Further down the coast at Spurn there are guided walks planned by the Bird Observatory in October, for more details Click Here

Richard Baines

Yorkshire Coast Nature