Sunday 17th October comments: Its been one of those days. The Isle of May has been shrouded in low cloud, rain at times, but with a light north-easterly wind blowing meaning only one thing at this time of year; INVASION!!

Just after 8am a short but distinctive call was heard… a high pitched ‘seep’ as the first of the Redwings moved across the island. These birds had probably departed Scandinavia the night before and has battled across the North Sea. As they met poor weather conditions along the coast, they were looking for hope, and there it was; the Isle of May standing proud and the gateway to the mainland. These birds were travelling in various size flocks some flocks totalling into their hundreds and as they reached the island they knew that within a few more miles, the relative safety of the mainland would be reached. These birds are arriving from Scandinavia as they escape the cold harsh winters of the north and will successfully winter across the U.K. before returning to breed next spring. It wasn’t just redwings on the move, as other northern breeders such as Brambling, Blackbirds and Song Thrush were also caught up with the movement.

Every year we expect a good arrival of Redwings but today due to the weather conditions, it was more concentrated. For the birds it is sanctuary, but for the counters it is a nightmare as fast moving flocks swirl quickly over the cliff tops before dropping out sight into the murk and then onwards to the mainland. However the counts were good and the final figures revealed some impressive totals:

Redwing                      13,165

Song Thrush               500

Blackbird                     100

Fieldfare                      10

Ring Ouzel                  1

Brambling                    300

It’s been a good day for visible migration and it just shows you the importance of the Isle of May even to migrating thrushes. Now time for a rest. 

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