Wintersett Visible Migration,
Autumn 2021 – the top 6 movers
Autumn vis mig normally peaks here from around mid-September to early November with the hill usually being manned regularly from mid-August through to the end of the season. This year 308 hours of timed observation produced 148,806 birds of 79 species, mostly heading south or west. The early part of the period was poor with generally low numbers of just about everything, though things picked up nicely for a few weeks from mid-October.
The six most numerous species recorded are predictable enough, but this year no fewer than five of these topped 20,000 individuals, four of them for the first time, and for each of these, record day counts also occurred:
Wood Pigeon (44,110): Late autumn movements can usually be anticipated if conditions are favourable, with most of this year’s annual total occurring during ideal calm weather on the early mornings of November 2nd (20,510) and 3rd (13,750). These numbers are great, but not that exceptional for this common species.
Starling (24,625): flocks of continental Starlings usually start to appear heading purposefully
west during early October, slowly building momentum and peaking late that
month. This year’s total beats the previous best of 14,511 recorded in 2018
with a record day count of 7,360 on 25th October.
Winter thrushes, Redwing (22,830) and Fieldfare (20,145): a bit of a late start this year with the first Redwing not recorded until 7th October and the first Fieldfare not until 24th. A major national influx of Redwing mid-month caused barely a ripple here and it was looking like we had missed out on any significant numbers – until November 4th dawned to see Wintersett at the epicentre of a large exodus from Scandinavia. Between first light and midday 31,900 winter thrushes (13,820 Redwing, 18,080 Fieldfare) passed through to the west offering one of the best vis mig spectacles recorded here to date. Needless to say these are both record day counts for the area.
Pink-footed Goose (20,343): the last of the top five to reach 20,000, with >19,000 recorded by mid-November but generally poor weather during the last 6 weeks of the year meant that the count was still c.430 short as dawn broke on December 31st. However, the final task proved much easier than expected when a series of loose straggly skeins totalling 600 birds went through west just before 09.30 hrs! Pink-footed Goose is an increasingly common autumn migrant through (or at least visible from!) the area with a record day count this year of 7,830 heading southeast on 6th October.
Meadow Pipit (6,821): the main disappointment of the autumn, presumably following a poor breading season. Meadow Pipit is always the most numerous species passing through from mid to late September with the peak usually during the last week of that month, although this year’s annual total and high count of 1,406 on 25th September seem rather humble compared to the 30,171 (and day count of 12,225) recorded in 2019!
Although they will never make it onto the top six numbers wise, three other species recorded impressive enough (and record movements) this year, two of which were in spring:
Whooper Swan: 680 flew north on five dates between 19th March and 2nd April with a record peak of 253 on the last day.
Swift: 1,837 went south over the weekend of 7th & 8th July including a record vis mig day count of 1,083 on the first day.
Sand Martin: 1,036 north on 11th April is a record vis mig count for the area.
Paul Meredith aka @Fitzybirder
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