Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Autumn migration counts and rarities

Estonia is a well known hotspot in Europe for visible migration of passerines and waterfowl migrating from Northwest Russia and Scandinavia to their wintering grounds across western and southern Europe and some of them even to Africa.

The most interesting has been an influx of Long-tailed Tits with massive numbers reported from various places. At Kabli bird station, more than 500 birds were caught for ringing. More than 8000 Long-tailed Tits were counted at Puise Peninsula on 29th September – the 3rd biggest daily count ever for this species. This kind of large scale irruption gives a hope for the west European birder that some white-headed „caudatus” may turn up much futher west.

Long-tailed Tit at Kabli bird station / Source: parnu.postimees.ee

Another star of this autumn has been Eurasian Jay – a species you wouldn´t excpect to migrate at all. The daily count of 18,000 passing Jays at Puise Peninsula on 26th September might show this species in a new light for you. This was also the best daily count ever for Estonia and possibly for the whole of Europe!

Like many European countries this autumn, Estonian birders were rewarded with an influx of Siberian Accentors. An astonishing five birds turned up in southwest Estonia in less than a week and three of them were caught in mist nets for ringing! A further three birds means that in all, eight individuals were seen in Estonia this autumn. One of them was still possible to observe a week ago in South-East Estonia! Siberian Accentor is the 387th bird species for Estonia and at present the only new bird for the country this year.

Siberian Accentor / Source: www.facebook.com/mati.kose

The influx of Siberian Accentors was very unexpected as the last individual in Europe was five years ago. Before 2016, there were only 35 records in Europe during last 100 years but over 210 Siberian Accentors were recorded across Europe during this autumn's irruption.

See the Map of the Siberian Accentor influx in Europe in 2016 > 

It has also been the greatest season ever for Yellow-browed Warblers with at least 22 individuals reported and half a dozen of them caught for ringing. On the back of this influx, the much rarer Phylloscopus, Hume´s Leaf Warbler, turned up near the northwest coast. This is only the5th record of this megabird in Estonia!

A third great rarity was spotted at Haapsalu on 3rd October, when Estonia's 4th Pied Wheatear was found by a local birder.

Other unusual findings for Estonia included 5 Firecrests, Black Vulture and Estonia's 11th Little Bunting.

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