Champions of the Flyway!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Nocmig Update, April '21 - Filey

A month dominated (and somewhat saved) by these beauties 

After a memorable early spring (see here and here), it wasn't a classic month's nocturnal migration recording here at Filey; compared with the much more benevolent conditions and corresponding results of April 2020 (the month it all began), conditions were just about as anti-nocmig as they could've been, with a seemingly endless northerly/easterly airflow, often clear skies and record-breaking frosts all combining to suppress movements and provide generally modest returns.

(Please use headphones for the audio clips)


There were, however, diamonds in the mine - most notably in the unstoppable form of Common Scoters, those rotund, weatherproof denizens of spring nocmig, which were thankfully an almost constant blessing - and a few other highlights sprinkled throughout the month. Read on (it won't take long this time)....


Filey Town 
The house recorder, and its location smack bang in the middle of the noisiest Herring Gull colony on the planet, suffered more than last April, and by the end of the month, if there was 20% of sonogram worth analysing, then it was a good night - far from ideal, but a combination of track record and stubbornness dictated persistence, which paid off to some degree.


Species which put in multiple appearances during the month included Teal, Curlews, Redshanks, Black-headed and Common Gulls, Grey Herons, Redwings, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Golden Plovers, although only in small numbers; Oystercatchers were reliably regular, and a Little Egret (pre-sleet and bone-chilling northerly gale) on the 4th was a new species for the house. An odd post-civil dusk pulse of passerines past the window on 20th included several Siskins and a Meadow Pipit, while Common Sandpipers eventually clocked in with singles on 19th and 23rd.


Otherwise, it was all about the Scoters. An impressive total of 49 flocks were logged throughout the month, often sizeable and vociferous, and often including calling females as well as males; there were several good nights with multiple flocks, but by far the pick was the night of the 12th, when 29 flocks registered between 2330 and 0210hrs. A joy.


Filey North Cliff 
Regular appearances from Teal, Oystercatchers, Redwings, Song Thrushes, Blackbirds, plus a smattering of Golden Plovers, Gadwall, Common Gulls, Skylarks, a couple of Water Rails and Little Grebes, Grey Herons, and the odd Wigeon were the story of much of the month, with a distinct lack of waders and passerines and low numbers of the more regular species.



Two variations on the many nocturnal flight calls of Water Rails

However, both Little Ringed Plover and Green Sandpiper were welcome registrations on the night of the 26th, and a drumming Snipe was a real surprise on the 19th - thought to be an exclusively breeding-related behaviour in the standard literature, but clearly not the case...

And then, thank the gods, there were the Scoters. Flocks were recorded on a total of eleven nights, again often substantial and often involving female calls, with a maximum of eleven flocks on the big night of the 12th. By the end of the month, a total of at least 35 flocks had graced the North Cliff recorder - with a minimum (allowing for duplication) of 72 flocks recorded over Filey combined in April alone.


(Happily, my Flamborough recorder had a much better month - summary to follow soon....)