it’saw­ildlife

Richard Birch, from the Chilterns Group of vol­un­teers at the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust has itchy feet

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - GREEN SPACES -

WHAT­EVER the cal­en­dar says, it’s au­tumn! That means mi­grant birds are on the move and I’ve got itchy feet to go and see them.

It’s a par­tic­u­lar point in the year when the birds that vis­ited us for the sum­mer to breed are de­part­ing, while those who come to en­joy our mild win­ter cli­mate are about to ar­rive.

Then there are those who just wan­der around the coun­try, pos­si­bly suss­ing out po­ten­tial new ter­ri­to­ries; and oth­ers just pass­ing through on the way from their Arc­tic breed­ing grounds to their trop­i­cal win­ter­ing ar­eas.

Any of them can turn up at a Wildlife Trust wet­land re­serve such as Col­lege Lake, and any­one can see them with a lit­tle pa­tience and per­haps some guid­ance from the help­ful bird­ing vol­un­teers who are there at week­ends.

Large flocks of swal­lows and martins are head­ing south, of­ten feed­ing over the open wa­ter, though some may linger for a few more weeks. Less vis­i­ble are the war­blers like black­caps and chif­fchaffs. These lit­tle birds gorge on hedgerow fruits to sus­tain them on their trans-Mediter­ranean ad­ven­tures. Look out for the ac­ro­batic hobby snack­ing on drag­on­flies be­fore head­ing south as well.

This is the time when pas­sage mi­grants can turn up, lit­er­ally pass­ing through. These could in­clude waders such as dun­lin, ruff (pic­tured at Col­lege Lake) or green­shank that may stay for a day or two, or as lit­tle as an hour for a quick re­fresh be­fore fly­ing on­ward to their win­ter­ing sites.

From late Septem­ber the first win­ter visi­tors will ar­rive: small groups of snipe qui­etly mov­ing into the muddy mar­gins of the is­lands, and bustling groups of wigeon bob­bing their colour­ful heads and whistling mer­rily as they up­end in the shal­lows.

Late Oc­to­ber brings red­wings and field­fares in from Scan­di­navia to de­vour rose hips in the hedges. If the weather turns re­ally cold, waxwings will make their dra­matic ap­pear­ance in our gar­dens and car parks to feed on rowan berries.

With luck you’ve had your fill of sunny days and snooz­ing in the gar­den, on the beach or by the hol­i­day pool – now’s the time to mi­grate to a BBOWT re­serve near you. Visit www.bbowt.org for ideas and in­for­ma­tion.

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