Spring Sessions

Spring is upon us and migration is already underway with wheatear, chiffchaff, sand martin, swallow, blackcap, osprey and even a nearby ring ouzel arriving in the UK, so it’s time to kick off the 2012 Cabot Tower visible migration watches.As most of you will know, autumn 2012 was our first season of watches, and although successful, we don’t know what the spring is likely to bring – birds could be following entirely different flight paths on their return journeys – but even if we see nothing, this is still valuable data! If nothing else, we should at least count a few meadow pipits and alba wagtails in the coming weeks, as they have already started moving north in reasonable numbers. The local raptors have also been quite active since it’s warmed up and in the last few weeks, plenty of buzzards and sparrowhawks have been up over the Downs and Ashton Court, so we’ve got our fingers crossed for something exciting passing over at some point… Red kite… Honey buzzard… Ring ouzel…?!As always, you don’t need to be an expert birder as we will be all working together to identify the birds. You just need to be vigilant. Although, all are welcome, we are all essentially contributing to an ongoing migration survey and you must bring your own birding equipment, even if it is a £10 pair of binoculars. If you are planning on bringing a spotting scope and tripod, please let me know in advance as, these have to be limited due to health and safety reasons, as Cabot Tower is a public building. If you are interested, do contact us and we hope to see you atop the Tower this spring. After all, who knows what could turn up!
Alex Rhodes

October 14th – first winter thrushes

7:00 – 9:00 am Temp : 12°c Wind: ESE 7mph / gusts 14mph

With reports of fieldfares arriving in the UK en masse over the last 24 hours and a few of us hearing redwings last night, combined with the best conditions we’ve had in a while, we were all quite hopeful that we would see some Scandinavian thrushes making their way over Bristol this morning.

Things didn’t get moving until sunrise at around 7:30 and tailed off towards the end of the count at 9am. In general, we had smaller numbers of meadow pipits and alba wagtails, hardly any chaffinches and quite a big movement of greenfinches. A few firsts from the tower, when the redwings and fieldfares started to arrive, then a linnet and then 4 skylark going north. Swallows still passing, but no sign of the redpolls that people have been seeing over the last few days. Redwings were in small groups, with 17 the highest and the fieldfares were only passing in 1s and 2s until a group of 70 passed SSW just before 9am. The odd rw/ff stopped briefly at the hill before moving on.

COUNTS (S / SW unless stated otherwise):

meadow pipit – 36 (largest group 10)

alba wagtail – 17 (in 2s and 3s)

redwing – 79 (largest group 17)

fieldfare – 75 (group of 70)

swallow – 17 (SE)

siskin – 7

greenfinch – 85 (groups of 10-15)

skylark – 4 (N)

mistle thrush – 4 (N then back S)

songthrush – 3

The greenfinch movement was probably the most interesting and although I had hoped for a few more thrushes, at least they are heading over town, so potential for the next few days.

Other sightings were a group of 5 ravens, a group of c40 carrion crows chasing each other around the tower and a nice view of a young male sparrowhawk making a few attempts on the resident passerines.