Are you a VisMigger, have you ever participated in VisMigging?
VisMigging, short for Visible Migration is where a person/persons sets out to pan the skies overhead for signs of avian life.
As a citizen scientist, whose claim to fame is in being a top ten BirdTracker in 2011, I view this pastime as an extremely useful scientific tool. Any birder with a keen eye and ear will produce valuable findings. With the fresh Autumnal air reinvigorating you, what could be better? As well as the fact, that hundreds and thousands of other folk participate, you are not alone in this.
Looking back at the records elsewhere in 2010, the highlight proved to be the large numbers of Lapland Buntings (Calcarius lapponicus), a true passage migrant.
Lapland Bunting, a non breeding Male
Come 2011, the more common miniscule lightweight Finch, the Siskin (Carduelis spinus), was to take the honours.
Siskin, a Summer plumaged female
The latter species was to smash several all-time site records with huge numbers seen or heard, most likely due to lessened availability of their favoured tree seed crop over in Scandinavia.
So what of this year? The prevailing weather conditions are important and add to the general air of anticipation. With the United Kingdom expected to be under a general Northwesterly flow over the coming weeks, it should make things move. Although recently however, quite a few of us Brits have basked in warm sunshine, thanks to a nearby High Pressure cell. Under the influence of this particular climate synoptic, locally, Swallows and House Martins have slowly moved through. Rather oddly, though, I witnessed a late Common Swift on the 3rd September.
To assist your own observations, you should gain a good knowledge of the local terrain. Another recommended practice is to follow weather forecasts in the media for opportunities affording weather windows. These are simply gaps between the passing of showery outbreaks or warm or cold fronts. As like us humans, the birds and wildlife in general will react to these everyday nuances. Additionally, Moon Phases play a role and let’s not forget, the diminishing daylight hours as we head towards the Autumn Equinox.
For your information, I have listed below, a select few websites which are dedicated to the science of Visible Migration.
BTO Bird Migration Blog
The Bird Observatories of Britain & Ireland
Trektellen Migration counts in Great Britain
Durlston Country Park Daily Diary
Do let us know of any other websites that you become aware of.
Posted by: Tony William Powellon
UKbirdingtimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+
*As ever, bird images are courtesy of The Birds of the Western Palearctic interactive DVD, produced in association with Birdguides.