The migratory drive in animals, especially birds.
|OUT: Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) RSPB Northward Hill, 1/9/11|
The well observed habit of swallows nervously fluttering on telelphone wires, preening and feeding, often signifies that departure is imminent. I'v heard that some swallows in the UK actually fly north prior to migrating, in a bid to make best use of the diminishing day length before a big 'push' en masse south.
|OUT: Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) St Mary's marsh, Hoo Pen. 22/8/11|
Wheatears strike me as being an inquisitive bird, often hopping onto fence posts with head slightly cocked (as this photo shows) Then they are gone with a cheeky flash of their white tail coverts. An epic migrant; some sub-species of Wheatear breed in Greenand/Canada and winter in Africa.This bird however, a rather worn looking female I think, may have started her journey in the UK.
|OUT: Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) RSPB Elmley Marshes, August. A bird whose polite sneeze of a call, a faint but distinctive 'pit-tew', has soundtracked many of my marshland wanderings this summer. There are numerous European sub-species of yellow wag but the brownish-green crown/nape markings mark this as belonging to the British 'flavissima' (ssp)|
|IN: Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria) A hundreds strong flock over the Swale Estuary.|
A relatively short-distance migrant compared to those above. Golden Plovers can be found locally in the UK all year round but most breed on tundra in far northern Europe and spend winter in the milder climes of central and southern Europe. Check your local reservoir/pool/marshy area for these dazzlers this winter!