AUTUMN MIGRANTS TO LOOK FOR
Autumn migration’s a wonderful sight to behold – and here’s what to look out for…
October sees autumn migration really hitting its stride, with winter visitors such as swans, geese and ducks starting to arrive in large numbers, some of our resident birds moving around within Britain, and some of our summer visitors such as House Martins still making their way south at a rather leisurely pace. In addition, rare vagrants from eastern Europe and Asia, and from across the Atlantic, will still be trickling in on the back of weather systems. Have a look for all these species this month, and as the autumn progresses, and remember that most might turn up just about anywhere now, while they’re on the move…
About 15,000 winter in Britain (mainly Scotland, northern English coasts, and around the Wash) and throughout Ireland. Look for flocks on grain and potato fields as well as around large bodies of water, and keep an eye out for the similar but smaller Bewick’s Swan, which winters in East Anglia and on the Severn Estuary.
Great Northern Diver
Usually seen on its own, and often further out to sea than other divers, but also turns up on inland reservoirs and lakes – about 2,500 usually winter in the UK. It has a large, heavy head and bill, with a distinctive square forehead, but keep an eye out for Blackthroated and Red-throated Divers, too.
Large estuaries such as the Wash, Solway, Ribble and Tay play host to huge flocks of these attractive geese – about 360,000 winter in the UK. In October, though, great V-shaped skeins can show up overhead anywhere as they make their leisurely way to their wintering grounds, and check stubble and potato fields.
Getting on for half a million of these ducks spend the winter in Britain, especially at sites such as the Ouse and Nene Washes, and Rutland Water, but look for them grazing on any grassy areas near fresh water – the males’ chestnut heads and yellow crowns are distinctive, as is their white wing patch and attractive whistling call.
Variable numbers of these gorgeous ducks winter in the UK, mostly in the south and west, with up to 200 some years. Although scarce, they’re unmistakable when they turn up on your local gravel pit or reservoir – the male has a white and black ‘cracked ice’ plumage, while the females are grey with ruddy brown heads and a white cheek.
Up to 30,000 winter in the UK, but they tend to remain in small, localised groups, especially on sites such as the Dee Estuary, the Solway Firth, and on the Ouse and Nene Washes. Larger than a Mallard, their long neck and tapered tail gives them a distinctive silhouette.