Mike Dilger’s wildlife watching
In his series of great places to watch wildlife in the UK, the star of BBC One's The One Show this month takes us on an outing to view migrating birds, with useful tips on when and where to look.
How to enjoy migration hotspots
Whether it be a new bird in the garden, a first for your local patch, or even a species you’ve never before seen in Britain, it’s time to admit there is probably a little bit of the ‘twitcher’ in all of us. For those with a penchant for tracking down rare and unexpected birds, October is the month when millions of our feathered friends relocate from their breeding to wintering grounds – with some getting lost along the way.
During this time of mass avian movement across the northern hemisphere, the best locations to catch up with more unusual species are on points, headlands and islands on or around our coast. It is the location of these migration hotspots that puts them in the perfect spot to offer respite for any migratory birds either using the coast as a navigational marker, or after traversing the seas as a regular part of their long journey.
Additionally, these sites tend to be the first landfall for any individuals that have blown off course or become disorientated.
Birders keen to maximise their chances of encountering extraordinary species at these prime locations frequently become avid weather-watchers in October. Winds can impact heavily on migration, as sustained easterlies should mean that birding on the east coast will be hard to beat. Conversely, if the prevailing wind is blowing across the Atlantic from the Americas, then west will be best. Moreover, if the ‘right’ winds combine with cold, wet and foggy conditions here in the UK, this often means migratory birds
Barred warblers turn up in the UK in the autumn as they migrate south. Head to the east coast for a good chance of seeing one.
Spurn Point is a popular destination for birdwatchers.