Sunday, March 13, 2005

Visible Migration over the Bradford Area.

Visible Migration over the Bradford Area.
From 12th March 2005 I will be responsible for the up keep of the Visible Migration report section of the Bradford Ornithological Group website. These pages are for use by those with an active interest in visible migration of birds. For those "new" to it I will in due course also be developing a more generalised Visible Migration section on the main site (not even started yet!).

Visible migration is essentially bird movement that can be counted - e.g. 355 Redwings north-west in 1 hour. It does not include stopovers of ducks and geese at reservoirs, or falls of night migrants (warblers and the like) as their migration is mostly invisible. However these species can still be included as "others" as they are often indicative of big movements or "falls" and are still of interest to the migration watcher.

Anyone counting in the Bradford Ornithological Group area or nearby and wishing to have their reports included on these report pages should mail them to me (Dave Barker) direct or preferably via any of the existing reporting systems currently in use, with a clear note confirming authorisation to include on these local Group pages. Specific counts of "vis" species or events / activity irrespective of whether complete reports or not can also be included as in fact can anything of interest to the "vis" watcher. I will then upload to do a daily - or more frequent update often when I open the info, very much in the fashion that we have become to expect. Anyone needing mailing instructions should get them from me at one of the monthly Group meetings.

For those new to Visible Migration watching, very briefly the important points are *:

* Select a suitable site and give it a name. Have knowledge of local movements. A locality with low resident populations is possibly most reliable.

* Watch and count for a specific time period and record the length of period.

* Record very briefly the weather conditions applicable and the affect they seem to be having on the birds. Just to put a face to the day.

* Identify and count all of the moving birds you see or hear at any distance and note their main direction of movement.

* Write a very brief diary report to enhance the points of interest as you appreciated them. When you’ve been doing it for a while and got into the hang, there will be lots to say here! This makes the presentation of your efforts more interesting and informative to every one at all levels. It also gets away from the bald lists of species and counts which mean very little to anyone except those with photographic and statistical minds or documentation to complete.

* List the species seen, their counts and directions of flight. As a generalisation its very much like sea watching, just as enjoyable and even more addictive without doing miles and miles to get there.

* If you don’t like doing reports or have no time for diaries just mail the bald counts as it is still of great interest to the "vis" watcher with his nose to the ground – or in the air as the case may be!!!! What has been found to date is that it all fits together, how ever sparse as a local picture and very often as a national one as well, but that’s another story.

There is already a well developed network of Visible Migration counters across the Bradford area but if you feel that your area is under represented, then why not have a go!!

These pages are experimental and hopefully will assist all to appreciate the background behind the movements and induce even more enjoyment from this compulsive birding activity.

One final point to remember is that whilst background levels of movement continue throughout the year which the "vis" freaks will continue to count, the true season is in the autumn and on selected days (its not always at peak or even moving much at all). But those special days in the Pennines just could not be missed, not even for a years watching at Flamborough or the like! So be warned!!!

Why not get out and join in now!!

Best Wishes,
Dave Barker.