Sunday, 4 November 2012

Migration ebbs

Apologies for no recent posts. I now plan on posting at least weekly with updates.

Weather here in Gedser has been quite poor recently. I've only managed to ring around 25 birds in a week due to high winds or rain and so I have tried to watch visible migration when I have had time. It's getting to the time of season when the finch migration is drying out, most finches have passed South earlier in the season where they will stay for the winter in warmer climes. Still though, late birds trickle through daily. Raptors are also fizzling down to zero apart from a few Rough-legged Buzzards which I expect to keep passing for a week or two. Ducks are arriving in the Baltic for the winter and I plan on talking a little more about this later.

A brief summary of this weeks migration highlights. Combined totals of birds migrating this week, in no particular order are.

Eider 400
Fieldfare 1200
Purple Sandpiper 1
Parrot Crossbill 18
Crossbill 4
Serin 1
Red-throated diver 26
Black-throated Diver 5
Common Scoter 184
Velvet Scoter 3
Waxwing 22
Scaup 3
Little Gull 8
Peregrine 1
Red kite 14
Sparrowhawk 8
Buzzard 8
Snow Bunting 2 (Resting)
Chaffinch/Brambling 450
Greenfinch 600
Siskin 800
Redpoll 450
Tundra Bean Geese 5
Grey Wagtail 2
Twite 70 (Wintering flock)
Raven 4 (Roaming)
Long-tailed Duck 26
Golden Plover 95 (Resting)
Lapwing 3
Reed Bunting 7
Yellowhammer 25
Bullfinch 30

Below is a quick, unedited video of 2 Resting Snow Buntings on the beach; by me.

I didn't count migration, all day everyday so these counts are in no way accurate, but we can say that these are bare minimums of each species.

I have really enjoyed my Sea-watching time here, stonking views of Long-tailed Ducks, Scaup and the Scoters aren't common on the West coast of the Britain. Preben the migration counter here at Gedser has been very disappointed with the duck migration so far this winter, he says usually you would see some thousands of each species passing the point daily at this time of year as they flock for the winter. Common Scoter, Eider and Long-tailed ducks form the largest flocks here and can be quite a sight.
Mixed sexed flock of Long-tailed Ducks migrating - Photo Arne Ader

An estimated 1.4 Million long-tailed ducks are said to winter in the Baltic (2009) though this number is down by 65% on the previous estimate in 1992/3 when there were approximately 4, 272,000 Individuals in the winter. So these fascinating ducks are in decline.

Common Scoter females in flight - Photo Joe Pender
 Common Scoters also use the Baltic as an important wintering area, the European population is said to be 130'000 birds of which the majority winter in the Baltic.

Common Eiders resting - Photo Scott Leslie

Finally Eiders, declined from C. 800,000 to C. 370,000 birds in Danish waters between 1990 and 2000 according to a paper by the WWT. Another source suggests that the population has increased since 2000 to approximately "500,000 bird by the winter of 2009" Christensen & Bregnballe (2011)

It is unfortunate then, that all of these charismatic species are in decline. It is, however a pleasure to be able watch these fascinating birds on a day to day basis as they pose no real identification problems in the field and are a joy to watch. 

Hopefully the weather this week will pick up a bit and there will be some more ringing. Maybe some more Owls at the end of next week, I'll wait and see.

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