Champions of the Flyway!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Nocmig Update, March 2021 - Flamborough

"Greouw!" A first Flamborough nocmig Bittern, 1935hrs, 22nd March (recording below) 

After kicking off my Flamborough nocmig adventure back in August last year - see here and here - I started recording again in earnest (after a short midwinter break) in mid-February; and so this March was the first 'full' month of the year, and began the first spring of said activities on the Great White Cape.


Limited but consistent registrations in the first half of the month included regular Teal, Moorhens, Redwings and Song Thrushes on the move, with Curlew, Oystercatcher and Coot added in the second week, as well Skylark, Blackbird and Robin as the month wore on. Numbers were rarely high but both Curlew and Redwing clocked in with significant counts, echoing patterns for both species last autumn; on the 17th, for example, 82 of the former and several flocks of the latter passed over the garden.

As with the Filey results, species diversity increased as favourable conditions kicked in for several days from the beginning of the third week - Snipe, Grey Heron, Golden Plover and other early spring migrants were registered, before a busy night on the 21st, which included Knot, Dunlin, three Coots, and - halleluliah! - the first Common Scoters of the spring (migrating with Wigeon in the clip below).
With their overland nocturnal migration between the Irish and North Seas showing a steep spike in late March and April, Scoters are especially emblematic of early spring nocmig, and were the species that really kickstarted my beginner's adventures this time last year; I was hopeful, then, that my Flamborough recorder would see some action too, and that first beeping flock were bang on cue:


The bird of the month prize, however, indisputably went to the Eurasian Bittern, which croaked twice over the recorder shortly after civil dusk on the following night, the 22nd; a less-than-annual rarity on the Head. The same night saw plenty of supporting action, with 51 Redwings, Wigeon, Redshank, Robin and more all heading back to more northerly and easterly breeding grounds. 

Teal - a regular migrant on March recordings

The next night (23rd) continued the theme, with two flocks of Wigeon, Golden Plover, two Coot, Moorhen, Curlews and more, but it was the 24th that stood out for sheer volume of Common Scoter movements - a total of twelve flocks between 2100hrs and 0020hrs were a real treat, some of which were clearly substantial. Despite the stronger winds, Scoters continued to register, with another three flocks on 26th; almost as hardy as Redwings, which were pretty much a constant in small numbers every night.
Common Scoters happily lived up to their name in the second half of March 

The last few days of March saw an upsurge in Golden Plover numbers (with e.g. 11 on 29th, including singing birds on that date and the following night), further trickles of Redwings, Moorhens and other 'stock' late Mar species, and fantastically, yet more Scoters powered resolutely on during the night of the 29th, with a further seven flocks registering on the recorder - bringing the total for the latter part of the month to no fewer than 25 flocks.... 

(For full daily counts, see Trektellen here)