EASTERN VAGRANTS - 20 September 2014

Not a UKIP inspired rant on immigration, but my short tale about seeing some migrant birds blown in on east winds. While the rest of Britain basked in warm September sunshine, in NE England we endured several days of fog, rain and those easterlies. Not surprisingly, most people here were fed up and wanted the weather to change, but not us birdwatchers. These are the autumn conditions we long for. May the wind turn east and let the rain fall! Soon it's raining birds as well as water. Precisely which birds will depend on the date and the weather conditions at source, and that could be anywhere out east across a range stretching thousands of miles from Scandinavia to Siberia.

After a week of such dismal weather I was out on 20 September leading another tour of Holy Island. There was a smattering of departing summer migrants like Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher, alongside birds arriving for the winter like the flock of Pale-bellied Brent Geese. Great to see, but these were regular visitors that we expected to find. What made our day was the impressive quartet of eastern vagrants we saw. Yellow-browed Warbler, Red-backed Shrike, Siberian Stonechat and Firecrest. Each one of these birds would have brightened my day, and it was marvellous to see all four.

Mark Winter

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