Migrants on the move

Top left: Honey Buzzard, Top right: Common Rosefinch

Bottom left: Little Stint, Bottom right: Barred Warbler

Monday 20th September comments: Away from the concerning news about the Guillemot and Razorbills in the North Sea 9more on that again soon), it’s that time of year when birds use the Isle of May as a service station on migration. Migrant birds are either leaving our shore for warmer climes further south or arriving from the high north escaping the cold harsh weather of Scandinavia and beyond.

As a result the isle of May is ideally positioned to welcome hundreds (sometimes thousands) of migratory birds as we stick out in the North Sea (and we also have a bird observatory monitoring all this activity!). Birds will use the island as a distinctive landmark as well as a safe place to feed, rest and prepare for their onward journey. This is repeated in spring and autumn and thousands of birds will be recorded during these next few weeks and months.

In recent weeks we’ve had the first wave of birds from thousands of Meadow Pipits moving south to southern England and northern France, whilst several different warbler species have been recorded. More noteworthy arrivals included four different Common Rosefinchs (a scarce drift migrant from the near-continent), a smart juvenile Honey Buzzard on its way to Africa for the winter (the 10th record for the island and first since 2017), whilst other birds of note have included Barred Warbler, Marsh Harrier and Wood Sandpiper to name but a few. Speaking of waders it’s been a reasonable few weeks as birds like Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshanks, Knot and Golden Plover have been recorded moving through the island whilst a Sanderling (a scarce visitor) was seen as well as a juvenile Little Stint which showed well for several days.

It’s now the autumn and anything is possible. We are expecting the floodgates to open on Pink-footed Geese any day soon and if those winds switch to the east, we might expect just one or two exciting things along the way…

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