Wednesday, 30 November 2011

More Notes on Migration - Mipits - Early Oct 2011

The Mipits this year offered the best counts I have ever had during my past three years at Hutton Roof.

The first main peak count was on Monday September 26th 2011 – that’s bang on with any expected “peak” date. Over four hours I had 495 birds. And then there was another secondary main “peak” count on Saturday October 1st 2011 of which I counted 541 birds.

But for me the main primary count this year was on Tuesday October 4th 2011, with a count of 1004 birds all heading South to South West. And these included some great parties of, 40,30, lots of 22’s and 20’s etc. I actually got this “higher than normal” count from a area slightly to the SE of my usual watchpoint (Clawthorpe Road) and the area chosen was very close to the vicinity of Kelker Well, the area was recorded as: (SD5591778345).

The reason I chose this area instead of the usual “Clawthorpe Road” watchpoint, is that I could see birds in the far distance crossing over the Kelker Well area in some quantity and so by the time I actually got to the Kelker spot, I had obviously missed lots of birds. The day had very strong winds of a Westerley 25mph gusting to 30mph at times, and then the wind actually swung around to the North West. It was quite noticeable that some of the parties of birds did seem to be coming from in the bottom, having already come from the Newbiggin side of Farleton, but suspicion led to a probability that the bulk of the birds could well have been coming from the direction of the Lupton area. And furthermore it was also suspected that birds could have also been crossing from further over into the next valley which runs from Sedbergh to Kirkby and close to the area of Barbon. Some of the birds did give the impression they may well have come down this routing.

It was clear there was a massive broad movement that morning and the birds seem to meet up and funnel through what I now call “Kelker Gap” (SD5591778345) and sort of climb up and over to follow on in the direction of Trig Point (SD5560477458), and onward to a presumed Littledale/Trough of Bowland onward passage.

I do think that probably why it was so good on that morning was because of the strong Westerley winds, which actually kept the birds down to a low altitude (eg: Max of about 20-75 ft high and which in turn gave good visability to them. If the winds had been more kind I do think they would not have funnelled but gone through in a more direct course at higher altitudes.