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What To Look Out For - November 2017

  • Mon 30th Oct, 2017

One of nature’s greatest spectacles is migration. On the east coast of England we are lucky enough to experience the wonderful arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrant birds from Northern Europe each autumn. On the 18th and 19th October 2017 many thousands of Thrushes and Starlings arrived from Scandinavia and Russia up and down the Yorkshire coastline. An incredible 12,000 Redwing were counted at Spurn on the 19th. They may now be making their way into your garden or whistling over your town at night.

Redwing © Richard Baines Redwing © Richard Baines

October 2017 has also been noteworthy for an almost unprecedented influx of Europe’s largest finch the magnificent Hawfinch. These birds are normally rare in Yorkshire during the winter but many have made land fall in October and are now busy making their way into our woodlands. They can turn up anywhere even on your garden feeder! This was bird was caught and ringed by Flamborough Bird Observatory staff on the 10th October. Hawfinches are birds of the tree canopy feeding high up on seeds before they drop to the ground. Their favourite food is cherry, holly, beech seed, ash ‘keys’, hornbeam, elm, yew and hawthorn. Their massive bill and neck muscles can exert pressure equivalent to 150 pounds per square inch. The best place to see these amazing birds this month is Yorkshire Arboretum where up to 50 have been present! For their web site click here.

Hawfinch Flamborough © Jo HoodHawfinch Flamborough © Jo Hood

Alongside Hawfinches there have been many Ring Ouzels arriving. Our breeding Ring Ouzels in the North York Moors National Park have already left to winter in North Africa, the new birds arriving on the east coast however originate from Scandinavia. They may well be on their way to meet our Yorkshire breeding birds in Morocco!

Ring Ouzel © Steve RaceRing Ouzel © Steve Race

Our Redwings and Fieldfares will be with us all winter and maybe even the newly arrived Hawfinches but keep a keen eye out for Ring Ouzels in November it may be your last chance, before our local birds return in March 2018.

On a much bigger scale, late October and November is a great time to see wild Arctic Swans migrating south after finishing their breeding season in Iceland or further east in Russia. Whooper Swans and more rarely the smaller Bewick’s Swan pass through our region and occasionally stop off to ‘refuel near our lakes. They can also turn up in random open arable fields where they take a shine to any fresh green vegetation. It can be an awesome sight as these huge elegant birds move overhead.

Whooper Swans © John BeaumontWhooper Swans © John Beaumont

Richard Baines

Yorkshire Coast Nature