Friday 14th October
Tons of birds around this morning – saw 61 species in 2 hours, which is seriously good. The Visible Migration season is in full swing, and was respectable even at Longham, where it’s usually dire. For those who don’t know, Visible Migration (Vis Mig) is the morning movement (dawn to about 11am) of day-flying birds such as finches, pipits and larks making short hops (e.g. of 50km) on their autumn journeys. It takes place on most autumn days Sept-late Nov, but the quality varies enormously. Usually you see flocks of birds flying over you, fairly high up and single-mindedly. They are often mixed, and the fun is separating out the travelling species, usually by call.
Anyhow, today the main movers were Goldfinches (hundreds) and Siskins (50+) moving north. However, the interest was in the variety: 7 finch species, including 3 Lesser Redpolls and at least 7 Bullfinches, plus Skylarks (16), Lapwing (25), Pied Wagtail (7), Reed Bunting (5), Meadow Pipit (3), Rock Pipit (1) and Song Thrush (9). The most unexpected bird was a juvenile Marsh Harrier, an extremely dark bird with little cream on the head, which moved high over south at 09.55. These numbers don’t compare to sites on the coast, but here, where seeing an overflying Siskin is a major VisMig event, it was great stuff.
Personally, the day was also special because it brought me my first Marsh Harrier at Longham Lakes, my second Rock Pipit and only my 3rd Lesser Redpolls. I have also now seen 122 species at Longham this year, which breaks my previous best.