Predicting spring and summer weather, sun or soak? according to the birds…

Having previously mentioned here, my passion for tracking Europe’s returning African visitors, I recently attempted an analysis of the latest data from the Gibraltar region. To do this, I reviewed a spreadsheet, set up in previous years that use the First dates of migrant bird sightings, sourced from Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society. Having gone through my seven randomly chosen bird species’ arrival dates (on return from Africa), they were to reveal some intriguing trends.

Below you can see a link to a copy of the above-mentioned spreadsheet.

gibraltar migrants

What does this data tell you? To me it hints at a good pattern match to 2010, when looking at the First known sightings of the seven listed bird species. Later, I will refer to the actual climate of two years ago. Meanwhile, a question arises. When looking at these bird arrival statistics, is it possible to predict the future climate for the United Kingdom, i.e. what will spring and summer weather be like? Currently, the latest news from Gibraltar indicated a relaxation of the High Pressure areas that have largely plagued that part of Europe since last autumn. Furthermore, it is a fact that Low Pressure systems with their associated weather fronts can move the migrant birds on mass, which sometimes result in bird falls (exceptionally large numbers). What effect if any, will this have on the United Kingdom, being that it is still under the firm grip of High Pressure and has been for several weeks now?

Has the current atmospheric situation resulted in a lack of bird movement? Oh, no! With quite a few spring overshoots such as Night Herons (Nycticorax  nycticorax) and Hoopoes (Upupa epops) already in, you can add to the mix the more usual Cuckoos (Cuculus canorus), Willow Warblers (Phylloscopus trochilus), Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe) and Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla)*. Is it possible we could be having an early migration season this year?

2010′s weather for the UK, based on my local data proved a dry and rather warm spring (March through May) and cool wet end to summer (June through August). The official data from the Met Office shown here – Spring 2010 and Summer 2010 roughly correlated to mine.

Newbury 2010 climate

Newbury 2010 climate

As you can see from the above, spring came early, as did autumn in 2010.  Watch this space for further news of any resemblance with that particular year.

Kind Regards

Tony Powell

*as ever, Thanks to Birdguides


Some late winter warmth?

Tony:

Click on the reblogged from Matt Hugo link above for the rest of the post.

The effect this upcoming spell of weather will have on Phenology events will be most interesting. Some potentially record-breaking Temperatures could occur in the South of the United Kingdom. Given some sunshine, Bees, Butterflies and Blooms will be the most likely candidates, alongside the early migrant birds brought in by the Southwesterly flow.

Fascinating times ahead.

Regards, Tony Powell

Originally posted on matthugo:

Well the phrase “In like a lion, out like a lamb” could well sum up February by the looks.  Clearly the first half of the month or the opening week or two experience a far different spell of weather than experience so far through the winter given a continental feed of cold or very cold air across the UK.  The difference between earlier in the month and the coming week will be significant!…

The latest FAX chart for Thursday helps to highlight the reason why;

The synoptic evolution through this week will be characterised by high pressure to the south or south-west of the UK and low pressure systems developing and passing to the north and north-west through the week.  The combination of these two synoptic features later in the week will be for the development of a very mild and moist south-westerly air mass from the Azores.  I highlighted…

View original 253 more words

Not what to expect, come Mid-November!

As if to confirm, a quote I saw on a fellow subscriber’s blog, I give you some news. The Nearly half way through November post and it’s reference to “the seasons’ constant cycle ignores the diary” seems somehow appropriate, in light of current ornithological sightings.

By no means unprecedented, but interesting nonetheless, I will present the following snippets, courtesy of Birdguides.

I hereby admit to cherry-picking some of the above information and apparently ignoring some twitchable species. I am NOT a twitcher, merely a citizen scientist. Actually, the listing above is a small sample of the information that can be accessed as a subscriber to Birdguides. The BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) will no doubt possess much more information on the current situation of November migrants in the United Kingdom. As the bird species aforementioned concern just those seen since November 1st, many will have since departed to warmer climes. All his however, takes me back to the original quote, in that nature does not always play by the rules.

Why are these migrant birds staying longer and arriving earlier?

Are these birds simply in an unfit physical state, deterring them from undertaking migration?

Are these birds simply developing a shorter migrational journey, year on year? Hence, staying longer and arriving earlier.

I don’t know the answers to the above questions. Science always requires answers but sometimes they are not always immediately obvious. In trying to resolve some of the mysteries surrounding Bird Migration. Can I refer you to a publication of the same title by Ian Newton, no.113 in the New Naturalist‘s series?

Good Reading.

Tony Powell

Winter Thrush update and Migration news

Well, things never cease to amaze.

The exceptionally warm weather of late September into early October saw five (yes, 5) consecutive date records, in terms of maximum temperatures. Amazing, as that seems, my gut instinct was that the birds (particularly the migrant species) would not be affected by these absurd conditions. The climate is always changing and along with shortening day length, nature has to respond. Well, the blog shown below confirms my prediction of incoming northern thrushes, as mentioned in my last post and a few other tidbits for one to consider. Good Reading.

BTO Bird Migration Blog

Ta Ta for now.

Tony