Saturday 6 March 2021

Nocmig 2021 - January and February

Last year I started sound recording the birds which flew over my garden at night. I didnt post enough here about it because I did it a lot and got lots of really interesting birds including Quail, Sandwich Tern and Avocet. At this point, I have processed nearly 1500 hours of recordings so I'm far more experienced although possibly a bit stuck in my ways. I'm posting about this now as I want to do monthly or bi-monthly updates for the 2021 recordings. During the core winter period, nocmig can be pretty slow, with 15 hour nights hosting no birds which can be tough to keep going. Thankfully we are through that now and things have picked up with wildfowl starting to move. 


Prior to Christmas, East Yorkshire hosted unprecedented numbers of Pink-footed Geese, which found the flatlands of Holderness to their liking. This was reflected in nightly flights recorded on nocmig (or just sat at my desk) in November but all the processing and little result through the night meant I only recorded a single night in December, and then I forgot to change the batteries when I went to bed so it didnt make it much past midnight. A brace of Redwing calls were the sum total and I had other fish to fry at the time.

I put in more effort in January, recording eight nights but it was tough going initially. My year list kicked off as I hit record just after midnight at New Year with Mallard, Barn Owl, Redwing and five Song Thrush. Whilst the former two probably havent travelled more than a few miles, the thrushes were much more interesting. One of the pieces of info I read during my lull was that Song Thrush movement continues throughout the winter - they are one of the staples of the quiet months. Redwings move, but in much smaller numbers once they are on their winter quarters. The local Tawny Owl, Blackbirds, Robins and Rooks took the nocmig yearlist onto a heady eight.

The January 1st-2nd was fairly similar although I did record my first Carrion Crow heading to roost and a pre-dawn Starling, taking the yearlist to 10. No Song Thrush movement this time but some pre-dawn Blackbird movements compensated and there were a minimum of three Redwing. My first wader of the year, at least one Golden Plover was recorded at 07:29 on 3rd January giving a couple of calls as it went over. Add to this a Pheasant shouting before it roosted and the yearlist climbed to 12 species. 

Russian White-fronted Geese and a single Pink-footed Goose

Due to the length of the night and the time it takes to analyse the data for meagre returns, midweek recording during this period is difficult so mostly it was Fridays and Saturdays in January. On Friday 8-9th it was slim pickings with no migrants, just the rookery and local Mallards but I recorded again on Saturday 9-10th adding Canada Goose, which was a nocmig lifer, and a disturbed Woodpigeon. The yearlist climbed again to 14 species. Saturday 16-17th January was a goose night with my first two skeins of Pink-footed Geese of the year and my first Russian White-fronted Geese on nocmig. The latter coincided with a widespread invasion and whilst not mega different to the Pinks, I was happy with the identification after several folks gave me their opinions which allied with mine. So sixteen species and two nocmig lifers in two weeks! Not bad. My penultimate recording of the month, on Saturday 23-24th was disappointing with no migrants but my first Coot of the year was picked up on my final effort on Saturday 30-31st January along with a lonesome Song Thrush overhead.

In February, I managed to record six times, weekly until it started to pick up at the months end. Adding roosting Jackdaw on 8th February was probably more down to my laziness prior to this than their absence and there were three quiet nights in the first half of the month. My first decent movement of the year was on 19th February when a minimum of two Teal flew overhead prior to midnight. A second Coot of the year and singles of Redwing and Song Thrush suggested that something had changed. The Teal took the yearlist onto 19 species. There was further movement on Saturday 21st with Wigeon opening this years account and further Teal and my first Golden Plover since 3rd January. Two Shelduck passes on 25th February were the second and third garden records. Initially they were mystery recordings but their true identity soon emerged. Alongside this there were further flocks of Wigeon and Teal, a brace of Coots and singles of Blackbird, Song Thrush and Redwing. The month ended on 28th with my first couple of Moorhen passes and the now expected Coot, Redwing and Song Thrush. A Dunnock bursting into song pre-dawn was my final addition taking the nocmig yearlist to 23 species for the first two months of the year.  

All the details, as ever, are on my NocMig site on Trektellen here:

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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