Tag Archives: migration

The Autumn Equinox

Tonight, and only a short time ago,  at 9.02 am local time here in Wicklow (8.02 pm GMT) was the exact halfway point between the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice. To put it bluntly, this is the definite end of summer and start of autumn, and from now until the Vernal Equinox next March each day will be shorter than the night. And the birds know that, so they’re fattening up, increasing their energy reserves by eating the various berries on the myriad trees and bushes which are brimming with them right now. Here’s a photo I got of a male House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) feeding on blackberries:

   And now butterflies are disappearing fast, although there are Large Whites, Green-veined Whites, Red Admirals, Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells still to be seen in small numbers. The latter two will hibernate and need to find suitable accomodation relatively soon if they are to make it to spring. However, the most numerous butterfly at this time of the year, and the one that blends in best with the autumn colours, is the Speckled Wood, which is usually the last species seen along hedgerows in the autumn. Their numbers are falling too, though. This September has been cooler than those we’ve had in recent years and that’s probably a factor.

But, if any creature plucks the heart strings more than others as it disappears from the landscape it’s the Swallow, You can still see some in our skies, but they’re flying south-east at speed, and usually not playfully hunting for insects as they were a few weeks ago. Now they have no time to waste and need to get to southern Europe and across the Sahara Desert to southern Africa with some degree of urgency, as the insect population on which they depend crashes in the colder, less sunny climate of autumn. There’s still a lot to enjoy out there though, and I’ll be doing my best to showcase it. Here is my slightly out-of-focus photo of a Swallow flyng quickly south,  and quite high up, this morning. I guess this is farewell and bon voyage, until next March or April:

 

Goldcrests in the Autumn Garden

Goldcrests are found in Ireland all year, but large numbers of them migrate into and out of Ireland each year in spring and autumn. The largest numbers of them arrive in autumn to escape the extremely cold continental winter temperatures of Scandinavia and Siberia. I tool this video last week showing a goldcrest looking for small insects in the leaves of a cotoneaster tree.  The best views of this handsome but tiny bird can be seen in the second half of the video.

All Saints Day

Halloween has ended and November has begun, bringing us deeper into autumn and closer to winter and our winter visitors have already begun arriving, such as these fast-flying geese which seem to be Greenland White-fronted Geese, the rarest species found in Ireland:

This species has important wintering grounds to the south of Wicklow, in the county of Wexford, on the famous Wexford Slobs, a damp grassland delta area. Because they were flying so quickly it was difficult to be 100% certain of the species, but the only alternative would be Canada Geese which were introduced, but which don’t usually fly across Wicklow in such large formations.  There are some bird calls audible as the geese fly in, but these are actually made by crows, however if you listen carefully you can hear the honking calls of the geese near the end of the video.

Keep your eyes peeled for migrating geese, and other winter visitors from the colder lands from the north of Europe and those of Asia..