Tuesday 9th November comments: The autumn migration on the Isle of May and elsewhere down the east coast has certainly been very interesting, more for the noticeable lack of birds rather than the rush of excitement. Apart from on a handful of occasions, migration has been incredibly slow with the island devoid of life on several dates.
A good example to demonstrate the lack of migration has been the humble Goldcrest. These demure birds are the U.K.s smallest bird as they weigh just 5.5grams, the same as a 20p piece. Yet despite their small size, Goldcrest’s migrate in their thousands along the east coast and if favourable east winds blow, the island can be carpeted with them. The most extreme example was the estimated 15,000 individuals which were present on the Isle of May in just one day in October 1982. However this was exceptional but it is not uncommon to have a few thousand present on a really good fall day in mid-October. In an average autumn, you would expect the best day counts to be a few hundred at the very least… but not this year.
Goldcrest numbers have been so few and far between this autumn with the highest day count not exceeding ten which is remarkable for such a common bird. However before we start jumping to some serious conclusions, we suspect it is the lack of favourable winds rather than something more sinister. However whilst we grumble we also appreciate that this is the magic and beauty of migration, as you never know what you are going to get and it’s what keeps us going as they say.