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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bird Migration

Today I have been investigating one of the mysteries of bird migration. As a member of the Bristol Ornithological Club, I joined five other men on the sea wall at New Passage, just to the North of Bristol. On arrival I realised that I knew Brian the leader, as he works for the same company as myself; I had not previously known that he is a member of the BOC.

The weather was clear but cloudy with some small patches of blue sky. The tide was out and there was a fair breeze. We saw many small birds, mostly flying up-river in a Northwesterly direction. I asked why this was the predominant direction and found out that no one really knows. The majority of the birds are flying South for the approaching winter, but it seems that they have flown down the West coast from Scotland and Northern England but have then turned inland, West up the Bristol Channel when they reached South Wales. The general trend though, is presumed to be South.

I have been interested in watching birds for as long as I can remember but am a novice when it comes to small bird recognition. My fellow anoraks seemed much more knowledgeable and were able to name the birds from their calls or their “jizz” [size, attitude, manner of flight]. So by the end of the session and having seen thousands of birds flying overhead we had a considerable tally. The most abundant were Chaffinches, of which 2,000 must have flown over in the two hours divided up into large or small parties. Other parties of birds, or single birds that we saw on migration at New Passage were:- Siskin, Greenfinch, Redpoll, Pied and Grey Wagtail, Starling, Reed Bunting, Redwing, Meadow Pipit, Song and Mistle Thrush, Goldfinch, Brambling and Chiffchaff. So no particular rarities or surprises were seen. Now home again after an excellent little excursion, which was followed by a warming breakfast at the Motorway Services at Aust. The photo shows the distant Severn Bridge, looming out of the mist from where we were standing.

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