Migration summary 2001
A Spring and Autumn summary
Another excellent year, capped off by the Spotted Crake at Eakring Flash, but made memorable earlier in the year with the area's first-ever Firecrest in May.


Migration typically began from around the middle of March, a Meadow Pipit trickle soon gathered momentum and the latter part of the month provided a sustained period of high counts. Many other traditional Spring migrants produced nothing out of the ordinary, aside from the largest ever build-up of Fieldfare in the area at this time. At it's largest, a flock, centred around pastures at Tug Bridge Farm, numbered 868 on April 1st, rising to 1 200 on 2-3rd. 284 were still in area on April 15th. There was little evidence of any north-westerly movements, but flocks regularly flew into the area from the west during the early morning (suspected at the time of being post-roost, but now considered genuine return movements) The final Fieldfare of the Spring, maintained a recent series of late records, when a bird was present in Eakring village on May 8th.

Some April arrival dates included, Sand Martin on 1st, with Swallow a week later on the 8th, White Wagtail at Kersall Pond on April 9th, Yellow Wagtail on 13th and Cuckoo 24th. The first Swift was five days earlier than other years on 25th, House Martin and an early Garden Warbler on the 26th and a Hobby moving east on April 29th completed the picture.

Spring migration certainly wasn't without it's highlights. A brief male Firecrest was discovered at Eakring Flash, on the morning that most of the area's footpaths reopened, and provided the area with it's first ever record, ending a four year search. Other pleasing records were the flock of Whooper Swans north-west on March 18th, female Goshawk over Lound Wood (March 24th) and the first of what turned out to be many Quail.

Meadow Pipit migration, Spring 2001

From a personal viewpoint, 2001 provided exceptional total counts and my previous observations of Spring Meadow Pipit passage have never revealed such a profile of migration as that attained this year. Record Spring three figure counts occurred with 267 north-west Mar 15th and 239 north-west March 24th. Counts of over 70 were also recorded on a further three dates. The full Spring total of 1 433, meant that it was nearly double the previous highest of 797 in 1998.

Chat migration during Spring 2001

For the first time ever, all four expected species were recorded during the Spring. Always the first to appear and at last becoming a regular species attracted to the rough vegetation around Eakring Flash, Stonechats are now recorded on an annual basis. Following on from three early Spring records during 2000, males were present this year on February 21-27th and March 5th.

Wheatears appeared from March 27th with a single at Church Hill, quickly followed by two the next day. During the course of the Spring, further birds continued to turn up until a male at Tug Bridge Farm on May 11th. Peak date was on April 29th when an arrival during the late morning/early afternoon brought in five birds scattered throughout the area. Further records were as follows, a male around Red Hill, April 16th; a male on Red Hill, April 25th; a pair near Church Hill, April 26th.

Until this year, the Redstart had remained an impossible Spring find. The reason for this is hard to determine, as the area holds enough habitat for a brief migrant and until last year had attracted this species regularly during the Autumn. The wait was finally over, when a female was found in the Red Hill area on April 29th. This bird was undoubtably associated with the good Wheatear arrival the same day. Remarkably a male was found the next day in the hedges surrounding Kersall Pond.

Since 1998, Whinchats have become scarce migrants here during the Spring. There were only two records again this year with one day birds present at Penny Pasture Common on 11th (a male) and a female at Eakring Flash on May 14th.


The Autumn, saw many of the regularly noted species, produce some record counts. These included Meadow Pipit and Starling, with counts of 4 021 and 8 429 respectively.

Finch migration

Migration during October featured a quite prolonged and relatively flat period of almost daily Finch movements. No particularly large daily counts were reached, but the accumulated counts for many species, provided new Autumn records. The highest accumulative total was reached by Linnet, producing 1 231 migrants from mid-September, regularly through until early November. This long period of southerly migration is a common feature among'st many finches. The Chaffinch produced a similar migrant activity profile and generally within the same time period. This Autumn's 857 birds was another record, but daily counts never went above the 70 mark.

Siskin movements began from September 18th and migrants were noted almost daily until mid November. It was the best Autumn for Siskin counts, which proved to be more than double those achieved by Redpoll, (another species to again provide new record accumulative counts) Peak dates for migrant Siskin were 36 moving south, September 30th and two further counts of 29 on both October 24th and 26th. Rarer finches were represented by single Common Crossbills moving south-west over Eakring Flash on October 24th and moving west over Eakring Meadows on December 2nd. A single Twite moving high south-east (October 15th) was the third record for the area and maintained a remarkable series of records here, which include two briefly in fields at Red Hill October 14th 1998 and three moving south over Eakring Flash on October 13th 2000.

Starling migration during Autumn 2001

Like the annual arrival of Fieldfare and Redwing into the area during the Autumn months, Starling arrival can be equally as impressive. In most years, Starling counts have exceeded both thrushes by some considerable margin. Starling migration through the county is often quite spectacular and any four-figure count is noteworthy. As with so many migratory events, many potential large Starling counts are missed. Like any other continental migrant, the correct weather conditions are needed to allow cross-sea passage and advantage seems to be taken of any reasonably clear or fine weather and good migratory counts here have been reached even in quite windy conditions.

During this Autumn, the first of a record 8 429 migrant Starlings were recorded from early October onwards, with initially small numbers moved west or south-west on several adjacent dates, eventually giving way to the first real influx on October 15-19th, with a pronounced peak of 1 035 moving west on October 17th. The above chart clearly shows the five main periods of Starling arrival. It also illustrates very well, a clear picture of when weather conditions were suitable for migration. The largest arrival/numbers came during November, when just under 3 500 Starlings passed through between 9-12th. The peak of 1 901 moving west, came on the 10th and coincided with the largest Fieldfare arrival of the Autumn.

Meadow Pipit migration Autumn 2001

This was a record seasonal count (4 021 birds) and unusual in the frequency of daily three-figure counts. All these combined to produce the above profile of Meadow Pipit migration. In most years, two or three visible migration counts, can exceed the 200 barrier and quite often, these will mark the peak counts for any particular season. In exceptional years here, migrant counts can break the almost magic 1 000 barrier (not achieved until this Autumn) but prior and post counts very rarely reach even 200.

During this Autumn, there were nine 100+ counts. These can be broken down even further, into six counts of 200+, four counts of 400+ and finally a peak count of 1 045 on October 9th. There was obviously a large-scale movement of Meadow Pipits across the UK this year. Many of these movements, coincided with good numbers of finches and wagtails.

A full list of all three-figure counts are shown on the right.

September 28th 213
September 30th 155
October 3rd 585
October 4th 450
October 6th 481
October 7th 194
October 9th 1 045
October 10th 201
October 11th 109