Just read on my local yahoo group that there has been a noteable movement of trumpetting / northern bullfinches since 30th October too so yet another species is piling out of the north this autumn. What is going on?
Not sure how relevant it is, but in Eastern North America just about every species that makes irregular movements South is moving - 8 kinds of winter finches, red-breasted nuthatches, bohemian waxwings, boreal owls, and there are signs of other owls coming south too.
It would appear that cone/seed/berry crops in northern latitudes are poor (not the only driver of irruptions, I know) and so it could be a good year for birders south of the boreal zone. However, and it could be a big however, it also seems (unless you know differently), that seed and berry crops in latitudes south of the boreal zone are also poor. That people in UK are reporting large numbers of passerines at the garden feeders (abundant coal tits in my garden) could be down to just plentiful migrants from the north hanging around, but seed from grasses and thistles seems scarce in any counties I've been in recently (only one Goldfinch visited the garden today; it's usually plentiful) - also blackthorn and rowan seem fruit/berry free. Doubtless some species could keep on going south, but I wonder if we will be seeing high bird mortality this winter, even if we don't have a hard winter?
All of the indications would appear to suggest that there is very little food in northern parts of Eurasia hence the huge movement of passerines documented. How far east the birds originate is as yet unclear but seems like many birds could be coming from very far to the east. The principle causal factor has to be food so it seems a choice between stay and starve or move until a food source is available.
High mortality appears inevitable but thats how nature works - if we get to see scarce species thats great but get those garden feeder stocked as they really can make the difference between life and death and you never know what might turn up? s
The gist of all the above is that we just have to get out there, ignore the absence of easterlies and hope to find the biggie. If you have a garden, you may be in luck.
A trick I learned from a fruitless (sorry!) trip to Scandinavia, in search of a certain owl, is to use dead (I hope) mice as lures: then, you can get stunning photos at point blank range. Whatever you do, ensure you don’t tell the dozen other, clueless birders in the forest where the bird has moved to, as you leave: you wouldn’t want them to see the bird, would you ?
The Trumpeters are interesting. Dual-note call reminder: http://www.xeno-canto.org/25923 and http://www.xeno-canto.org/67217