Champions of the Flyway!

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Nocmig Update - Filey, Jan-July '22

Please use headphones to enjoy the sound files!

Snow Bunting - a new nocmig species, recorded in February over North Cliff

After a very busy few months, finally an opportunity to bring nocmig activities up to date. Here's the first half of the year's results from here in Filey - firstly from the North Cliff, and latterly from the study window here in the town. 


A Quail migrating over the recorder on the night of the 8th May was the first since two in July last year (the only local records of this elusive and scarce migrant last year and, so far, this year)

I ran the Audiomoth (a palm-sized, pre-programmable recording device) throughout the first half of the year up on the North Cliff here in Filey, and while it wasn't quite the rollercoaster of last spring, there was still plenty of activity to enjoy and add to the dataset. Highlights included Quail, Jack Snipe, Snow BuntingsRing Ouzel, good movements of Redwings and Common Scoters, Tundra Bean Goose, and pleasingly, a nocmig Chiffchaff!


The recorder rolled for 18 nights in January (and continuously from 14th), picking up a small but decent range of seasonal species and some welcome highlights, mostly from a purple patch mid-month. Of the latter, my first nocmig Jack Snipe on 19th and a Tundra Bean Goose on 15th were very welcome, and of the former, records included Common Snipe (regularly), Grey and Golden Plovers, Wigeon and Teal, Grey Herons and Pink-footed Geese. A bonus Little Owl near the recorder on 16th was a rare local record.

Ring Ouzel - recorded at both North Cliff and over the house


19 nights recordings produced a reasonable cast in February, with Teal, Snipe, Black-headed and Common Gulls, plenty of Moorhens, Coot, a flock of Pinks (11th), single Sanderling and (unusually) a Great Black-backed Gull, at least two Whooper Swans (14th) and Oystercatchers on multiple nights, but the clear highlight was a flock of Snow Buntings on the night of 6th, another new species for the nocmig adventure:


An equipment error knocked out the first third of March - not the greatest loss, with conditions being poor - which they unfortunately continued to be for much of the rest of it; but March is always a busier month for species variety, and so it transpired this time. Wildfowl were represented by a flock of Pink-feet on 21st, regular Wigeon, a few Teal and Gadwall and regular Mallards, but - while it was nothing quite like the Flamborough movement - Common Scoters still scored well late in the month: a total of 29 flocks between 23rd and 28th peaked with 14 flocks on the latter date.


Common Scoters - males, females (lower-pitched 'beeps') and loud wingbeats as the flock passes over the recorder 

Chiffchaff - one of the more satisfying nocmig registrations! 

Expected early spring movers included a few Grey Herons, Coots and Water Rails, lots of Moorhens, ten wader species including Knot, Grey and Golden Plovers, while passerines were represented by a surprise Chiffchaff deep into the night on 15th (complete with calls gaining and fading as it passes the recorder!), as well as a few Skylarks, Starlings, Fieldfare, a few Song Thrushes, lots of Blackbirds and good numbers of Redwings - of the latter, there were 1556 registrations through the month (all from 13th onwards), with peaks of 302 on 23rd and 271 on 29th.


Despite a total of 21 nights recorded (others were lost due to high winds, an unfortunate theme of the month), April was quiet overall, with both species numbers and their relative abundance remaining low. The usual suspects put in variable appearances - e.g.Moorhens, Water Rails, Oystercatchers, Teal, Wigeon - while just singles of e.g. Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover and Little Grebe were recorded.


Passerines were also few and far between with the exception of Redwings, which figured on most nights in the first half of the month, peaking at 239 on 4th; a Ring Ouzel on 17th was a decent bonus, however, and Common Scoters continued to register up to 18th, with a total of 13 flocks (peaking at four on 13th).


May was a similar story, with pretty much blanket coverage and not a whole lot to show for it outside of the more expected species, but a Quail on 8th was a very welcome record (after the first in July last year); the same productive night also produced Bar-tailed Godwit, a late Redwing and the first Arctic Tern of the year. 

Arctic Tern

Otherwise, Common Sandpipers figured on eight nights, both Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers, Whimbrels, Lapwings and Redshank were among the wader selection, and a Spotted Flycatcher on 17th was the pick of the passerines.



The recorder-wedged-in-the-study-window-and-pointed-into-the-alley technique was again employed in the spring, but more sparingly these days, depending on opportunity, conditions and of course the Herring Gull colony; the latter's noise builds through the season and dominates the spectrograms from late April onwards (although the lure of possibility still just about inspires efforts well into May...).


Thus, March is often the most productive month, which was the case again this year. Passerines are always a particular pleasure to record here, as they're all genuinely on the move by default - and these included Robin, Fieldfare, lots of Song Thrushes (peaking at 16 on 22nd), good movements of Blackbirds (peaking at 181 on 24th), and last but never least, Redwings - excellent totals, especially late in the month, peaked at 375 on 23rd 483 on 25th, with 1387 registrations overall.

Oystercatchers were (predictably) the most numerous waders, but Redshanks featured on several nights (with four on 23rd), as did Curlews, Knot, Ringed Plovers and Golden Plovers, with singles of Grey Plover and Lapwing. Expected species included Coots, Grey Herons, Water Rails, Black-headed and Common Gulls and Moorhens, with wildfowl represented by Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Wigeon and of course, Common Scoters - flocks of the latter beeped over the house and out over the North Sea on multiple nights from 13th onwards.

Pink-footed Geese registered on several nights in March 

Opportunities in April were much reduced (to 11 nights) - and the gull colony rendered more than half of the nightly spectro useless by mid-month - but lots of the regulars put in appearances, with the addition of a Little Ringed Plover on 16th and Whimbrel, Green and Common Sandpipers at the end of the month; May was somewhat of a losing battle for the same reasons, but a Ring Ouzel and another Little Ringed Plover on 1st, Common Sandpipers on several dates, Whimbrel, Dunlin and Knot all made the 'scrawling through a bar code' analysis (just about) worth it untill the gulls undeniably won by late month.