Herts Garden Vismig – Week 1 “The Stats”

(8pm on 7th Sep)

Total No. of Species Recorded 74
Total No. of Birds Recorded 6,752

As expected, the first week of the Herts Autumn Garden Vismig Watch got off to a slow but steady start.  An area of high pressure dominated for much of the week but the NNE breeze and overcast conditions did give way to a heatwave, clearer skies and a more south-easterly wind direction.

The easterly nature of the wind direction over the week meant that passage birds were evident but clearer skies in the latter half of the week brought more visible migration overhead.  Yellow Wagtails were recorded flying over 8 gardens and a steady trickle of Swallows & House Martins added to the sense of movement.  Swifts lingered into the week but only a single bird recorded after 5th.

As the sun came out

raptors came to the fore with Hobby, Peregrine, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Red Kite all recorded.  The sunny conditions on 5th saw a peak count of 20 Buzzards and 33 Red Kite recorded from across participants’ gardens.

Also evident in the air were large numbers of Black-headed Gulls cashing-in on the flying ants.  These flycatching parties were also joined by other gull species (Herring, Lesser Black-backed & Common), Starlings and even Jackdaws.

In the gardens Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers were the most obvious migrants with a few Blackcaps too.  All three birds can still sometimes be heard singing quietly as they forage.  Also notable is the resumption of the ‘tit flock’ – usually comprising numerous Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits with Coal Tits, Nuthatches and warblers thrown in for good measure.  It is always worth checking these flocks as they can harbour other migrant birds such as flycatchers, scarcer warblers and Treecreepers.  In the past, such flocks have harboured Firecrest and Yellow-browed Warbler!

The week did have its highlights with a single Spotted Flycatcher kindly remaining in Rupert Evershed’s garden till 1st – one of three present in his garden in late August.  Matt Moreton also hit the jackpot on his return from a day’s birding elsewhere in the country to find a Wheatear perched on his chicken coop!  Also worthy of note is John Pritchard who recorded all three owls from his garden.

Aside from finding scarcer species much of the enjoyment came from discovering or rediscovering some of the more common species on the move.  Canada Geese are beginning to make their winter forays between farmland and lakes, Cormorants are arriving for the winter and Chaffinches are beginning to reappear.  Robins are also coming back into song after their moult.

Looking ahead we can expect the arrival of Meadow Pipits passing overhead – they’re already being recorded from more northerly watchpoints.  They can be difficult to pick up but familiarising yourself with their calls helps.  This time last year also saw the arrival of Siskins, Lesser Redpolls and a few Crossbills but these species fluctuate year to year, so their numbers remain to be seen.  Hirundine and warbler passage should continue and of course, there’s always the possibility of something really unusual!  Wrynecks have been recorded up and down the country and this week saw the first Herts record this year.  They have been found in gardens before so keep your eyes peeled…

It's not too late to take part!

Enter your sightings (as often or as little as you wish) on the Autumn 2021 Herts Garden Vismig Watch Googlesheet