Welcome to the Frampton Marsh wildlife blog, with me Paige, the practical conservation intern. This week we are taking a quick look at some of the changes currently occurring in nature, such as the arrival and departure of some of our birds.
Arrivals and Departures
July is a month that marks the arrival and departure of certain birds on their autumn migration route. You might think it is a bit early, since autumn is a couple of months away still. However, some birds decide to head off early and get first dibs of the food at their usual feeding grounds.
The ‘bird nesting season’ is officially between February and August, in which many birds, including all year-round species and migratory summers visitors, will breed in the UK. In this time, you may have observed many birds working hard to raise their young, some choosing to raise one brood and some choosing to raise several, but for other animals, the breeding season is already over, and they are beginning to prepare for winter.
Swifts live up to their name by only staying long enough to breed, arriving in the UK in late April to early May, leaving again in July to August. In mid to late July, before the nights turn cool, swifts are starting to make their way back to Africa. They build up their energy by eating insects on the wing prior to leaving, enabling them to fly almost non-stop, without roosting, to their destination. For instance, one young swift was recorded leaving the UK on 31st July and was found in Madrid on 3rd August, by mid-August it would have reached Africa.
Passing through the British Isles are numerous birds following swifts on their autumnal migration journey, including several waders which are often still in their breeding plumage. Spotted redshanks set off southwards, leaving their northern Scandinavian breeding grounds, and are unmistakable if they stop off; they are jet black with white spots over the back and wings (see image below). Curlew sandpipers have a reddish tinge to their plumage and individuals can be seen passing through the UK, as they leave the Arctic and head to Africa (last one recorded at Frampton Marsh on 18th July 2020).
The conspicuous spotted redshank in summer plumage.
The first arrivals include bar-tailed godwits and sanderlings, some still in their breeding plumage. Godwits arrive still with summer chestnut breasts, and sanderlings arrive with chestnut-red breasts and backs, before turning grey for the winter. Godwits leave their breeding grounds in northern Scandinavia and Russia, and sanderlings leave their breeding grounds in Svalbard, and both choose to spend their winter with us. Godwits can be seen in estuaries such as the Humber and Wash and check out long sandy beaches for sanderlings. Species from the same family such as sandpipers, can also be seen in the UK, some staying for the winter and some just passing through. The curlew sandpiper, pectoral sandpiper, green sandpiper, wood sandpiper and common sandpiper have all been sighted at Frampton this month.
Since seasonal changes are already underway, be sure to keep watch of the nature that is around you, notice as birds start to disappear and emerge, and as the climate changes, so does their behaviour.
Thanks for reading.
I'll be there as usual on Saturday if weather conditions look promising
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