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PMcS 2006


Movements of birds in Britain (by month)

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This table lists some of the most common migratory and other movements of birds in the British Isles.

January Hard weather movements quite common with the arrival of birds from the Continent Departure of birds in severe weather.  Also random movements of lapwings, chaffinches, thrush species, skylarks, woodpigeons and wild geese
February Local redistribution of tits and stonechats.  Return of razorbills, guillemots and gannets to islands and seacliffs. Early departure of redwings
March Manx shearwaters return.  Kittiwakes and puffins back at seacliffs.  Arrivals of chiffchaff, sand martin, wheatear, lesser black-backed gull and early ring ouzel, stone curlew and garganey.  Golden plover back on hills. Redwings and fieldfares assemble.  Bramblings and chaffinches on move with some grey wagtails.  Mixed flocks of wading birds break up.  Departure of some goldcrests.
April Main arrival of willow warbler, blackcap, garden warbler, whitethroat, sedge warbler, Savi's warbler, whinchat, black redstart, redstart, nightingale, swallow, house martin, wryneck, cuckoo, yellow wagtail, tree pipit, osprey, common and artic terns, great skua, corncrake, little ringed plover and avocet. Storm and Leach's petrels back to islands. Departures of redwings, fieldfares, snow buntings, chaffinches, wildfowl and waders.  Passages of black-tailed godwits, green sandpipers and Greenland wheatears.
May Main arrival of wood warbler, grasshopper warbler, reed warbler, lesser whitethroat, turtle dove, swift, nightjar, pied and spotted flycatchers, red backed shrike, hobby, common sandpiper, dotterel, arctic skua, Sandwich tern, quail. Late fieldfares and bramblings leave. Passages of spoonbill, black tern, curlew, whimbrel. bar-tailed godwits, greenshank, spotted redshank, dunlin, ruff, purple sandpiper, turnstone, wood sandpiper, green sandpiper, grey plover, sanderling, knot, Temminck's and little tern
June Arrival of marsh warbler and red-necked phalarope. Passage of great shearwater, woodchat shrike and honey buzzard.  Continental juvenile lapwings on the move.
July Dispersal of young birds Adult cuckoos move south and Savi's warblers leave.  Flocking begins.  Moult migration of shelduck for Heligoland Bight and Bridgewater Bay.
August Black headed and common gulls arrive Swift and adult cuckoos depart south.  Some warblers (especially chiffchaff, willow warbler) move south.  Pied flycatchers on the move. Puffins and other auks abandon sea cliffs and golden plover and dunlin the moorlands.  Passage of wood sandpipers and other warblers, lesser black-backed gulls and white wagtails.
September Arrival of pink-footed geese, mallard, wigeon, shoveller, pochard, tufted duck.  Also early thrushes, goldcrests and snow buntings arrive. Swallows and house martins depart south with turtle doves, nightingales, tree pipits and other summer visitors.  Passage of little stints, curlew sandpipers, green sandpipers and other waders.  Inland movements of gulls, skylarks, meadow pipits, wagtails.
October Redwings and fieldfares arrive with hooded crows, shorelarks, chaffinches, bramblings, siskins, redpolls, continental starlings, rough legged buzzards, whooper swans, bean, brent , barnacle and grey lag geese, goldeneye, long-tailed ducks, jack snipe, woodcock and short-eared owls. Heavy inland passage of birds and some rarities and vagrants.
November Fulmars back at ledges.  Late redwings and fieldfares arrive with Bewick swans, smew and an occasional great grey shrike, water or Richard's pipit.  Winter-visiting divers and grebes. Autumn movements die away.
December White-fronted geese arrive. Sometimes hard weather movements.


Source: The Natural History of British Birds by Eric Simms (JM Dent & Sons).  Please note that all attempts at tracing the copyright holder of Natural History of British Birds by Eric Simms were unsuccessful.


All images and text are copyright PMcS 2006