Another epic migration-watch

I raised the bar today and left home before 5 AM to have a full morning migration-watch at yesterday’s spot. I ended up birding for 9 hours and 15 minutes and it was epic, especially in the morning.

I arrived at the watching spot still in complete darkness with conditions perfect for stargazing. Tawny Owls were calling from the surrounding woods and as dawn started a Little Owl called from the nearby farm. I heard the first overflying Redwings (23 different calls) and 4 Song Thrushes still in darkness. 2 Yellowhammers were also nocturnal migrants.

Before the Sun rose, larger flocks of Common Chaffinches and Redwings flew past. I was literally spinning around as the activity was so intense in every direction. All birds, apart from the Eurasian Skylarks, flew northwest or north. Skylarks flew east-southeast.

Fieldfares are beautiful members of the winter-bird communities. © Sindri Skúlason
Permission to embed this photo has been granted by the photographer. All rights reserved by Sindri Skúlason

After Sunrise the goodies started to appear. First, a Brambling flew overhead then, a single Common Redpoll and European Siskin. A characteristic call got me a flyover Common Greenshank followed by a Common Snipe. Another familiar call helped me to spot a northbound Eurasian Curlew. They are pretty unusual birds for this spot. 12 European Golden Plovers flew northwest and in the afternoon a single bird flew east.

There was a nice set of birds of prey including a resident Common Kestrel, 4 passage Eurasian Sparrowhawks (all headed south 3 males and a female), Red KitesCommon Buzzards and a juvenile Merlin chasing Common Starlings.

The resident Northern Ravens flew over the area all day. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Later in the morning and early afternoon, more scarce birds appeared. There was a single Tree Pipit and a Hawfinch headed west, while 3 Whimbrel flew south. A late Common House Martin enjoyed ‘insecting’ around the farm.

Dunnocks were singing around my observation spot all day. © Gyorgy Szimuly

By 11 AM the migration slowed down considerably with an occasional small flock of RedwingsFieldfares but Common Chaffinches kept flying past in small flocks or singles. The migration of Redwings wasn’t as steady as yesterday or over the weekend as many seemed to settle in the area. More birds used the hedges and the Hawthorn bushes or the Brambles. In the last hour of my migration-watch, the number of passage Eurasian Skylarks picked up with a single flock of 27 birds.

I saw two pipit-like birds flying together what I couldn’t identify not even by their calls. The closest hit was the Water Pipit but not quite. Much larger than Meadow Pipits with a long tail and whitish underparts.

All in all, this day was far beyond my expectations with a stunning 63 recorded species from a single spot. It is surely a short-lasting treatment for my mental health issues.

eBird checklist from the 9 hour-long session:

Greylag Goose (Anser anser)  4 flyovers
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)  2 flyovers
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  8 flyovers
Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa)  2
Stock Dove (Columba oenas)  105 flyovers
Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)  103 flyovers
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)  13 flyovers
Eurasian Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus phaeopus)  3 flyovers
Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)  1 flyover

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)  1 flyover
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)  1 flyover
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)  4 flyovers
Mew Gull (Larus canus canus)  1 flyover
European Herring Gull (Larus argentatus argentatus/argenteus)  2
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus graellsii)  112
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)  2 flyovers
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)  4 flyovers
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)  4 flyovers
Red Kite (Milvus milvus milvus)  12
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo buteo)  6
Little Owl (Athene noctua)  1
Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)  2
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)  7 (5 flyovers)
European Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis viridis)  3
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)  1
Merlin (Falco columbarius)  1
Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)  2 flyovers
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)  18
Western Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)  63
Rook (Corvus frugilegus)  34
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)  67 (3 birds nocturnal calling)
Northern Raven (Corvus corax)  2
Coal Tit (British) (Periparus ater britannicus)  3
Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)  6
Great Tit (Parus major)  5
Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis)  153 flyovers
Common House Martin (Delichon urbicum urbicum)  1 flyover
Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)  3
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus europaeus)  22
Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)  2
Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes indigenus)  6
Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  127
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)  4 (4 nocturnal calls)
Redwing (Turdus iliacus iliacus)  1,873 (23 nocturnal calls)
Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)  8 (flyovers)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)  193 flyovers
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)  13
Dunnock (Prunella modularis)  6
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)  1 flyover
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)  7 flyover
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)  147 flyovers
Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)  1 flyover
Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)  659 flyovers
Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)  2 flyovers
Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)  1 flyover
Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)  2
European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)  5 flyovers
Common Linnet (Linaria cannabina)  56 flyovers
Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)  1 flyover
European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)  26 flyovers
Eurasian Siskin (Spinus spinus)  1 flyover
Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)  63 (2 nocturnal calls, 53 flyovers)
Common Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)  1

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