Saturday 1 November 2014

Woodpigeon Bonanza

Nick and I birded Orcombe from 0650 - 0940, but for much of that time we were rooted to the spot as wave after wave of woodpigeons powered north-west. The passage started soon after dawn with smaller flocks, but at its peak we estimated flocks of 2000 birds followed by 1500 passed high overhead. Counting was difficult to say the least. At first we were able to count reasonably accurately but as the flocks got bigger we had to accept there would be a considerable margin of error. That said, both Nick and I reckon that, if anything, we probably under-counted, so 16000 is almost certainly a conservative count.
Photos can't convey the marvel and scale of woodpigeon migration and it was fantastic to hear the soft beating of hundreds of pairs of wings as lower flocks went over. Thankfully this spectacle is now expected every autumn in the right conditions.
Closer scrutiny of many of the less spectacular flocks revealed small numbers of stock doves. The biggest flock of stock doves consisted of 70+ birds. The total number of stockies recorded was 180+


17 Stock Doves
With so much pigeon movement, other birds went under-counted but the following species made it into the notebook: 1 great spotted woodpecker, 2 jay, c10+ pied wagtail, several meadow pipit, c50+ jackdaw, c30+ chaffinch, 6 redpoll sp, several goldfinch, 1 raven, 2 song thrush, 9+ reed bunting, a few greenfinch, c60+ starling, c30+ skylark, 2 chiffchaff, 1+ siskin and 3 snipe.

Jay and Magpie

Reed Bunting - I went back up to the top fields early afternoon, curious to see if there were still pigeons moving, but unsurprisingly they weren't. This reed bunting was sat quietly in the hedge alongside the slurry pit.

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