29th September 2014

This is a busy time of year for migration of many birds and other species, giving us the chance to see wintering species arrive as well as losing many we love, like Swallows and Swifts. Many migration details are only coming to light with modern technology and the development of light-weight tracking devices. The Painted Lady butterfly, for example, which comes north to the UK in summer in huge numbers, sometimes as many as 11 million of them arriving from the Mediterranean region, was for many years thought to die off in autumn. Radar tracking has now revealed that they fly back to Europe but at such heights- around 1,000 metres– that they couldn’t be seen migrating by eye! Many waders migrate here, swelling resident populations, to feed on our estuaries, (like the Godwits, with their very long bills). Some waders, such as Little Gulls, just stop off to feed, and some stay all winter. This is not surprising as 1 square kilometre of estuarine mud produces 200,000 kCal of food in a year. Probably the most awe-inspiring migration story of the lot is the Arctic Tern which in a lifetime is thought to travel further than any other creature. Travelling 20,000 miles from the Antarctic, and then back again, it has been calculated that some individual Arctic Terns will have travelled one and a half million miles in it’s lifetime, as far as to the moon and back 3 times! Conditions: A duller day with showers and cloud. Temperature: Max 18- Min 12 C

An Arctic Tern, probably the most extraordinary example of migration in the animal world.

An Arctic Tern, probably the most extraordinary example of migration in the animal world.

Arctic Terns come here to breed in summer from the Antarctic.

Arctic Terns come here to breed in summer from the Antarctic.

A beautiful Painted Lady butterfly, which migrates to and from the Mediterranean each year.

A beautiful Painted Lady butterfly, which migrates to and from the Mediterranean each year.

A Godwit, one of the waders whose numbers are swelled in winter, through in-migration.

A Godwit, one of the waders whose numbers are swelled in winter, through in-migration.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s