5 to find Oct
October is many birdwatchers’ favourite time of year. It is very much one of the key migration months of the year, and, of course, migration brings excitement and the chance of something special or even very special, indeed. Here are five great birds to look for this month.
Not much bigger than a Goldcrest, this delightful little eastern ‘Phyllosc’ is going through a period of increase as an autumn passage bird in the UK, with more than 1,000 birds sometimes found during October (plus a few overwintering individuals). Most are found in the northern isles or the east of England or the south-west of England. Listen for the distinctive ‘pseeooeet’ call and look for the bold yellow supercilium and double wing-bars.
Great Grey Shrike
All shrikes are wonderful birds, but Great Grey Shrikes have the added glory of being big brutes, to boot. October sees a bit of a passage, particularly in the east as they migrate out of Scandinavia. And perhaps 65 or so birds will stay to winter, often at traditional sites. They are birds which like open areas to search for large insects as well as small mammals (and even small birds) to catch, impale on a thorn, and eat. They also require some height to view the hunting grounds, be it overhead wires or taller bushes.
American Golden Plover
A rare visitor from, you guessed it, North America, the American Golden Plover is similar to a Golden Plover (and often found within flocks of the European birds), but smaller, often greyer and with a bolder supercilium and grey (not pure white) underwings.
The cute little Siskin is a tiny little yellow-green finch which breeds mainly in the north and west of the UK, but from autumn onwards spreads further south and east. Listen for the familiar call as birds start to arrive on their ‘wintering’ grounds this month. Found near conifers or in areas with plenty of Alders or birches.
Ospreys are on the move in October, heading out of the UK on their way to West Africa and so on, for a change of scene and diet and some winter sun. Birds passing through can drop in to fish at pits, lakes, fish farms and reservoirs on the way. They are huge, very long-winged black-and-white hawks, quite unlike our other raptors. Catch up with them while they are still here.