Champions of the Flyway!

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Nocmig Update - May '21

Edit - a series of calls recorded at 2317hrs on 13th May over Filey North Cliff (half an hour after the Bittern!) have been confirmed as belonging to an American Golden Plover - see here for full details
A Ring Ouzel admirably cut through the sonic nausea of an all-night mini-rave in the Country Park on the 1st (recording below) 

After the seemingly endless cold northerlies and discouraging conditions that dominated April, May just had to see a significant improvement... didn't it? Well, in a word, no. Unusually grim, cold, windy and mostly wet weather with an unbreakable northerly airflow was pretty much the story of the entire month, resulting in extremely poor circumstances for migration studies generally, and comparitively very slim pickings re: the nocturnal recording thereof. But, in the spirit of the glass always being half-full, there were some stand-out highlights, and a few memorable nights....


 ...but first, a further word about those conditions, and how they (presumably) affect what we're recording. April and May last year were dominated by (the far more typical) mix of milder, often cloudy nights and a south-westerly airflow - ideal for nocmig in several ways: the birds are more likely to be actually nocturnally migrating; they're more likely to be following the coast; they're more likely to be flying lower; and therefore also perhaps more likely to be calling. Unfortunately, this spring was effectively the exact opposite; as a result, variety and (especially) abundance of key species were well below par. The contrast was stark, and it just showed how easy it is to take spring nocmig locally for granted. Anyway, onto what did happen....


Whimbrels were recorded at all three sites, with several substantial flocks passed over Flamborough, including these on the 1st
As is often the case, of the three sites Flamborough scored highest for wader numbers, with e.g. substantial flocks of migrating Whimbrel, Turnstone and Knot during May; it's not immediately obvious why this is, but it does seem the village recorder is on a more productive shorebird flightline. 

Numerous Moorhen and regular Coot registrations were also notable, with the nearest breeders over 1.5km away, but then the rallids are somewhat a law unto themselves (and the image of them trailing their legs over the village rooftops is reward enough). Sandwich Terns, a couple of Spotted Flycatchers, and a late flock of Common Scoters (on 25th) were all welcome, but the unexpected highlight was (presumably the same) Little Ringed Plover actively, territorially singing on the nights of 1st and 2nd...


Filey North Cliff 
As mentioned above, numbers were lower than expected, but there was a respectable range of species involved and some clear highlights. Of the former, eleven shorebird species included Knot, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit and Turnstone, as well as six Common Sandpipers and a handful of Whimbrel; of the latter, there were notable passerines, which - but for a single Spot Fly - were all thrushes: a Ring Ouzel and a late Fieldfare both managed to cut through the noise of a mini-rave on the 3rd, while odd Redwings early in the month were overshadowed by a late flock of at least three on 23rd.
A Little Egret over Filey North Cliff on 2nd was the second for the site....


Of the latter? Amazingly - after no fewer than three on Flamborough nocmig this spring (one in March, two in April) - a Bittern overflew the North Cliff recorder at 2244hrs on the night of the 13th... another excellent record of a less than annual occurence in the Filey area, and the second in less than a year there, after the first in July last year.


 ... as was the Bittern on the 13th! 

Filey Town 
As expected, the sonos from each night's recordings were up to 80% gull screams, but the masochistic urge to scrutinise whatever small gaps they were kind enough to leave even half-analysable just about won out to the month's end, and there were some minor victories - a total of 15 Common Sandpipers put that species joint first for the month (with Oystercatcher), while other waders included small numbers of Whimbrel, Curlew, Ringed Plovers, Knot, Little Ringed Plovers, Dunlins and Redshank.


 Another legit migrating Blackcap over the back alley on 9th - magic!
A scattering of Moorhens, a couple of Water Rails, single Common Scoter and Gadwall were also recorded, and several nights featured the arrival of long-distance passerines, with a Tree Pipit (my first spring nocmig record, 20th), two Spotted Flycatchers (both on 9th), two late Song Thrushes, a Robin, and the wonderful sound of a Blackcap (also on 9th) 'migration-singing' over the urban chimney-pots for the second spring running.