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.
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
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.
*as ever, Thanks to Birdguides
Posted by: Tony William Powellon
Posted in birding, phenology, weather
Tagged Africa, Autumn, Bird migration, Bird news, Birdguides, Birding, birds, Blackcap, Citizen science, climate, climate change, Cuckoo, Europe, Gibraltar, Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society, Hoopoe, Met Office, migrants, migration, Night Heron, Northern Wheatear, Ornithology, phenology, research, seasons, spring, summer, weather, Willow Warbler
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Some belated highlights of mine were further Brimstone Butterflies seen on the wing during the sunnier days. On the local downs, some gatherings of Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) hereby shown courtesy of Finn Holding’s thenaturephile. In addition, a couple of sightings of Grey Partridges (Perdix perdix) being very special as both of the aforementioned iconic bird species were frequenting potential breeding areas. Whilst undertaking my March WEBS survey, I also saw the amazing structure that is a Long-tailed Tit’s (Aegithalos caudatus) nest being built. You can see a typical Long-tailed Tit’s nest illustrated here. Woodland Snowdrops which were mentioned in a previous post of mine, are generally going over now but new plant and tree life is on its way. I will elaborate further on this, below.
As of 15th March, I observed my first Wood Anemones (Anemone_nemorosa) in flower. Intriguingly, the first instances of Wood Anemones were on this exact date last year. In 2010 they were a full two weeks later. The flowering Wood Anemones returns an average date of 14th March, based on a strong sample of 16 records. Of the trees, showing signs of springing to life on my countryside patrol were the Horse Chestnut (Aesculus_hippocastanum). One particular Horse Chestnut was in budburst and the more usual date for this to occur is the 21st March, based on 13 records. There have been reports of Ashes (Fraxinus), Oaks (Quercus) and other specimens of trees and shrubs being further forward than is normal for the time of year. Therefore, it does seem that many trees will unfortunately be budding earlier this year adding further stress to nature’s imbalance.
That is about all the news from me as the phenological year continues unabated.
naturestimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell
Posted in butterflies, Environmental, insects, my calendar, Nature's Calendar, news, phenology, Scientific, Uncategorized
Tagged Ash, Birding, birds, British Wildlife, budburst, buds, butterflies, butterfly, Citizen science, climate, climate change, environment, flowers, Grey Partridge, habitat, Insects, Long-tailed Tit, Nesting Birds, news, Northern Lapwing, Oak, phenology, plants, research, seasons, spring, trees, united kingdom, Wood Anemone, woodland, Woodland Snowdrop
As per recent years, some of our bird species are well into their nesting routines even before the spring equinox. The link shown below illustrates this situation well. The information source is from the British Trust for Ornithology and comes courtesy of Birdguides.
Posted in birding, new research, news, phenology, Scientific
Tagged Birdguides, Birding, birds, Breeding Birds, British Trust for Ornithology, nature, Nesting Birds, Ornithology, phenology, seasons, spring