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The great East coast (UK) 'fall' of 1965! (1 Viewer)

Bluetail

Senior Moment
Hardboiled said:
on 3rd Sept 1965 the Suffolk town of Lowestoft was brought to a standstill when up to 1/2 a million exhausted migrant birds of many different species descended on roads and pathways to rest. any further info?

Hardboiled
Hi, Hardboiled, and welcome. That was the classic "rush", wasn't it? Wish I'd seen it.

From Stephen Moss, Birds and Weather: A Birdwatcher's Guide:

"At just after two 'clock in the afternoon of 3rd September 1965, the residents of Lowestoft looked up to see a vast cloud of small birds overhead. Birds were dropping out of the clouds like raindrops, and soon the town was alive with them, in gardens, on the beach, and even in the roads, where many fell victim to traffic. Two people, in different parts of the town, actually had Redstarts alighting on their shoulders from the sky.

"Tens of thousands of birds were involved. All along the Suffolk and Norfolk coasts, great flocks of Northern Wheatears and Whinchats, Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers, Garden and Willow Warblers were arriving exhausted from the North Sea, and landing anywhere they could find food and shelter.

"The following morning, one observer, David Pearson, walked along the coast south of Walberswick. Along a 3-km stretch, he logged a staggering total of 15,000 Redstarts, 8,000 Northern Wheatears, 3,000 Garden Warblers, 1,500 Whinchats, 1,500 Tree Pipits, and 1,000 Willow Warblers, along with smaller numbers of other migrants. Rarer migrants were seen in unprecedented numbers, too: Wrynecks and Bluethroats reached double figures in several places, with Icterine and Barred Warblers, Ortolan Buntings and Red-backed Shrikes also appearing.

"The species involved and the time of year, left the lucky observers in no doubt that they were witnessing a massive displacement of Scandinavian migrants which, heading south-south-west across the North Sea to the coasts of mainland Europe, had been diverted westwards to East Anglia by the adverse weather conditions."

The synoptic charts for the previous day, 2 September, show an anticyclone over Scandinavia creating clear skies for the birds' departure and a depression centred over southern Germany. On the 3rd the depression moved up into the North Sea. It was the east winds and bad weather on the top edge of this depression that caused the displacement.
 
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RecoveringScot

Well-known member
Bluetail said:
Hi, Hardboiled, and welcome. That was the classic "rush", wasn't it? Wish I'd seen it.

From Stephen Moss, Birds and Weather: A Birdwatcher's Guide:

"At just after two 'clock in the afternoon of 3rd September 1965, the residents of Lowestoft looked up to see a vast cloud of small birds overhead. Birds were dropping out of the clouds like raindrops, and soon the town was alive with them, in gardens, on the beach, and even in the roads, where many fell victim to traffic. Two people, in different parts of the town, actually had Redstarts alighting on their shoulders from the sky.

"Tens of thousands of birds were involved. All along the Suffolk and Norfolk coasts, great flocks of Northern Wheatears and Whinchats, Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers, Garden and Willow Warblers were arriving exhausted from the North Sea, and landing anywhere they could find food and shelter.

"The following morning, one observer, David Pearson, walked along the coast south of Walberswick. Along a 3-km stretch, he logged a staggering total of 15,000 Redstarts, 8,000 Northern Wheatears, 3,000 Garden Warblers, 1,500 Whinchats, 1,500 Tree Pipits, and 1,000 Willow Warblers, along with smaller numbers of other migrants. Rarer migrants were seen in unprecedented numbers, too: Wrynecks and Bluethroats reached double figures in several places, with Icterine and Barred Warblers, Ortolan Buntings and Red-backed Shrikes also appearing.

"The species involved and the time of year, left the lucky observers in no doubt that they were witnessing a massive displacement of Scandinavian migrants which, heading south-south-west across the North Sea to the coasts of mainland Europe, had been diverted westwards to East Anglia by the adverse weather conditions."

The synoptic charts for the previous day, 2 September, show an anticyclone over Scandinavia creating clear skies for the birds' departure and a depression centred over southern Germany. On the 3rd the depression moved up into the North Sea. It was the east winds and bad weather on the top edge of this depression that caused the displacement.

I remember getting out 'British Birds' dated around the time (65-66) from the SOC Library in Regent Terrace, Edinburgh about 25-30 years ago, and there was an article about this fall there.
 
thanks bluetail

Bluetail said:
Hi, Hardboiled, and welcome. That was the classic "rush", wasn't it? Wish I'd seen it.

From Stephen Moss, Birds and Weather: A Birdwatcher's Guide:

"At just after two 'clock in the afternoon of 3rd September 1965, the residents of Lowestoft looked up to see a vast cloud of small birds overhead. Birds were dropping out of the clouds like raindrops, and soon the town was alive with them, in gardens, on the beach, and even in the roads, where many fell victim to traffic. Two people, in different parts of the town, actually had Redstarts alighting on their shoulders from the sky.

"Tens of thousands of birds were involved. All along the Suffolk and Norfolk coasts, great flocks of Northern Wheatears and Whinchats, Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers, Garden and Willow Warblers were arriving exhausted from the North Sea, and landing anywhere they could find food and shelter.

"The following morning, one observer, David Pearson, walked along the coast south of Walberswick. Along a 3-km stretch, he logged a staggering total of 15,000 Redstarts, 8,000 Northern Wheatears, 3,000 Garden Warblers, 1,500 Whinchats, 1,500 Tree Pipits, and 1,000 Willow Warblers, along with smaller numbers of other migrants. Rarer migrants were seen in unprecedented numbers, too: Wrynecks and Bluethroats reached double figures in several places, with Icterine and Barred Warblers, Ortolan Buntings and Red-backed Shrikes also appearing.

"The species involved and the time of year, left the lucky observers in no doubt that they were witnessing a massive displacement of Scandinavian migrants which, heading south-south-west across the North Sea to the coasts of mainland Europe, had been diverted westwards to East Anglia by the adverse weather conditions."

The synoptic charts for the previous day, 2 September, show an anticyclone over Scandinavia creating clear skies for the birds' departure and a depression centred over southern Germany. On the 3rd the depression moved up into the North Sea. It was the east winds and bad weather on the top edge of this depression that caused the displacement.

many thanks bluetail
yes, that must have been special. makes me wish i was 70 and of east anglian origins! i've been doing some research into bird migration recently for a project i have in mind, hence the original posting, and i've come across some good stuff
in AD1250 the prior of a cistercian abbey in germany caught an adult barn swallow and tied a parchment to its leg with the message,"o swallow, where do you live in winter". the following spring the swallow returned with a new message:"in asia, at the home of Petrus"!
 
thanks RecoveringScot

RecoveringScot said:
I remember getting out 'British Birds' dated around the time (65-66) from the SOC Library in Regent Terrace, Edinburgh about 25-30 years ago, and there was an article about this fall there.

if ever there was a case of being in the right place at the right time,(or not).
many thanks for the info.
Hardboiled
 

Bluetail

Senior Moment
Hi Ronald

Basically, yes.

I've just realised that I've got a copy of the BB article (Sept '66). I haven't read it yet, but from a scan it seems clear that, though the bulk of the rush occurred in Suffolk (H. E. Axell and D. J. Pearson estimated that more than half a million birds descended along the 24 miles between Sizewell and Hopton), its effects were apparent as far north as Fair Isle.

At places like Fair Isle and Spurn where cover was sparse, the birds moved off very quickly. In Suffolk, however, where there is plenty of habitat, most fed, rested and recovered and moved inland, but no more than about 10 miles. Most of the Garden Warblers departed from Suffolk on the clear night of 4/5 Sept, but the main departure of most other species took place on the following night.

A few Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts ringed during the rush were later recovered in SW France, Spain and Portugal and a Spotted Flycacther ringed at Minsmere on the 3rd was later recovered at Tivoli near Rome.
 

Ronald Zee

Well-known member
Thanks Jason,

Amazing that these birds departed from a place they'd never been to (England) and still made it to their original destination.
 
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Katy Penland

Well-known member
Thanks so much for that, Jason! What an incredible sight it must've been. I'm torn between hoping I get to experience something like that sometime, yet hoping, for the birds' sakes, I never do . ;)
 

timmyjones

Well-known member
WOW that is an amazing story i've heard of people saw walking down a canal for a mile and seeing over 60 willow warblers in a mini mass migration!
 

Touty

Well-known member
I've always been a bit suspicious of the 500,000 bird number, having read the BB article about 25 years ago when I was at University. If the 24 mile strip (40 kilometres) ran inland for a kilometre then the 4000 hectares would have held a bird every 80m2 (grassland, hedge, woodland, cornfield). In the available vegetation it would have been standing room only. Must have been an amazing sight though. This having been said, European summer migrant populations were very high in the years running up to the big 1968/69 crash caused by the Sahelian drought.
 

Bluetail

Senior Moment
You should be so lucky, Gill. I reckon that's a once-in-a-lifetime event, like the great St Ives seawatch of 1983.
 

nigelt

Well-known member
Bluetail said:
You should be so lucky, Gill. I reckon that's a once-in-a-lifetime event, like the great St Ives seawatch of 1983.

So what was seen during the great St Ives seawatch of 1983?
 

Bluetail

Senior Moment
nigelt said:
So what was seen during the great St Ives seawatch of 1983?
The birds were difficult to count, of course, but on the information I have to hand, the estimates were:

Gannet 20,000
Manx Shearwater 25,000
Sooty Shearwater 250
Great Shearwater 50
Balearic Shearwater 35
Cory's Shearwater 1
Storm Petrel 10,000
Leach's Petrel 10
Wilson's Petrel 1
Great Skua 450
Arctic Skua 245
Pomarine Skua 20
Long-tailed Skua 2
Sabine's Gull 100
Kittiwake 20 (!)

Other species seen:
Little Gull
Grey Phalarope
Arctic Terns
Whimbrel
"Blue" Fulmar

No mention of auks, but there must have been tens of thousands.

Can anyone refine this from the 83 Cornwall Bird Report?
 

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