Flock size


Sitting out on the north side of the house a few days ago, I noticed a flock of around 800 birds flying west in a relatively tight, ball-shaped group.

With the exception of Starlings, around water (so, Lapwings for example), swifts, or passerine invasion years (Bramblings), I've rarely seen such a big group.

I know that I'll never know what these birds were. They were flying away from me; bins were in the house. But I had the impression I was looking at medium-sized waders.

This was steady, powered flight, around 2 to 3 beats per second.

Anyone know anything about migration habits and flock size?

For those who don't "know" me, we're situated in the Swiss Jura hills. So the birds were flying toward Franche-Comté, and were just a few kilometres from the three-lakes region of north-west Switzerland, and the country's largest uninterrupted wetland/reed-bed zone.

Best regards - 


  • Perhaps they were a coincidental group of 400 pairs of Love Birds, flying off into the sunset providing a romantic ending to their adventures in paradise.... or (K)not, but maybe they were feeling Ruff and at their 'wits end...etc etc :o)
  • In reply to PimperneBloke:

    There. I think you know more than you're telling me, PB.

    (Which is almost always better than the other way around.)
  • Looking on ornitho.ch for yesterday (not knowing where any of the places listed are in relation to you) the biggest numbers seen in different places, were pigeons, jackdaws and black headed gull. and some pochard, if that info is of any use!

    EDIT: And then on page 9 there's 550 chaffinch listed...that must've been an ear ache!

  • In reply to PimperneBloke:

    Thanks PB. 550 Chaffinches, eh? You're right; must have made a din.

    It's sometimes difficult to tell whether these are single sightings or site lists (so, observed at the same sight during a period of at least one hour (a list criterion on the .ch website)). We did ask ourselves about the 26 Marsh Harriers observed a month or so back close to Piombino (Italy; ornitho.ch), and whether they were all holding hands...
  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    Well if they weren't holding hands, it would have brought an early dusk!
  • Medium size wader,ball shape flock maybe heading towards a wetland have you considered Golden Plover Dave? I just mention that because we have been seeing flocks like that at this time of year that were Golden Plover but as you say we may never know


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • In reply to Seaman:

    Wendy S said:
    Golden Plover

    Big flocks Pete? I had to count (estimate) three or four times as I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing...

  • Dave at this time of year we often get flocks of 1000 + on the larger wetlands or coastal strips


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • Excellent Pete, thank you. I'll look into that.

    All the best -