Friday, 14 October 2011

Wheatears on the move

Garden BirdWatch Ken Humphries dropped us an email to let us know about this unfortunate Wheatear that flew into a window in Ocle Pychard, Hereford.

The Wheatears passing through England during autumn migration are heading to wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa. These birds are drawn from both the European breeding population and the one that includes birds from Canada and Greenland, identifiable on structural characteristics as being a different race, known as leucorhoa. Birds from Canada and Greenland do not begin their autumn migration until August and it is these birds that tend to dominate during the later weeks of the passage through England. Some idea of the migration patterns of Wheatears can be seen from BirdTrack records.

The migration routes of Wheatears have been revealed through bird ringing. This map is taken from Time to Fly, a BTO publication.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Red Kites in gardens

Melanie Orros, a student at the University of Reading, got in touch to ask our Garden BirdWatchers if they have Red Kites visiting their gardens. Specifically, Melanie wanted to hear from those participants who actually put out food for visiting Red Kites. We checked our database and found 483 GBW gardens for which we had online submissions of Red Kite. Quite a few of these records would be of birds passing over the garden, rather than taking food but it does highlight how well this species is now doing.

Red Kite, by Jill Pakenham

Melanie has produced a short web-based questionnaire. If you could spare five minutes to fill it in then that would be really helpful. Melanie has kindly offered to write a piece for Bird Table about her findings.

Red Kite is one of those species that falls into the grey area of whether to record or not within the rules of Garden BirdWatch. You could argue that a hunting/scavenging Red Kite is looking for opportunities in your garden, even if it does not land and this is why some participants record them. The important thing is for you to be consistent in your approach from one week to the next. It will be interesting to discover just how many folk are putting out food and getting them land in the garden.