The Zoologist/4th series, vol 5 (1901)/Issue 720/Migration of Birds in N.E. Lincolnshire during the Autumn of 1900, Haigh

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Migration of Birds in N.E. Lincolnshire during the Autumn of 1900 (1901)
by George Henry Caton Haigh

Published in The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 5, issue 720 (June, 1901), p. 201–211

3847769Migration of Birds in N.E. Lincolnshire during the Autumn of 19001901George Henry Caton Haigh

THE ZOOLOGIST


No. 720.—June, 1901.


MIGRATION OF BIRDS IN N.E. LINCOLNSHIRE
DURING THE AUTUMN OF 1900.

By G.H. Caton Haigh.

The chief feature of the last autumn passage was the almost total absence of visible migration—indeed, the scarcity of the smaller land birds was quite unprecedented in my experience. The number of shore birds also was far below the average.

The prevailing winds were from the W. and N.W., and the weather on the whole was unsettled and showery. The only movement which amounted to a "rush" occurred in mid-October, lasting from the 13th to the 20th, and consisted almost exclusively of our common winter visitants, most of which were present in their usual numbers.

No rare birds were met with in the district, but among the scarcer visitors may be mentioned the Bittern, Red-necked Phalarope, Wood-Sandpiper, and Little Auk.

The list of absentees is more noteworthy, comprising the Stonechat, Kingfisher, Great Titmouse, Goldfinch, Short-eared Owl, Buzzard, and Wood-Pigeon. I have never previously known the Kingfisher to be absent from the coast during the autumn migration, and the same remark applies to the Short-eared Owl. The Wood-Pigeon was omitted from my last year's notes, but a considerable immigration took place after they were written, about the middle of January. This year my keeper, writing at the end of February, said that he did not believe that any Pigeons had come in, as at that time they were not more numerous than in summer.

Turdus viscivorus, Linn. Mistle-Thrush.—These Thrushes were assembled in large flocks by the early part of July, and remained in great abundance throughout the autumn. On Oct. 13th I noticed a considerable number in the coast hedges.

T. musicus, Linn. Song-Thrush.—The passage of this species commenced late. A few appeared in hedges near the coast on Oct. 13th; they were fairly numerous on 17th, and the migration continued until the end of the month. A few appeared again on Nov. 12th, with Redwings and Blackbirds.

T. iliacus, Linn. Redwing.—A few Redwings passed over Grainsby on the morning of Sept. 27th. The principal immigration, however, took place on Oct. 17th and 18th, when these birds were very abundant in the vicinity of the coast, and along the sea-bank, with Song-Thrushes, Ring-Ouzels, and Greenfinches. A few again appeared on the coast on Nov. 12th, and from this date to the end of the month Redwings swarmed in all suitable coverts at roosting-time.

T. pilaris, Linn. Fieldfare.—I did not notice the Fieldfare on the coast at all. A few appeared in Grainsby Park on the morning of Oct. 22nd, and on the 26th I saw a small flock in Waith fen. On the mornings of Nov. 5th and 18th I observed small flocks of Fieldfares passing to S. over Grainsby. None, however, remained in the district, and the species was entirely absent when I left Lincolnshire at the end of the month.

T. merula, Linn. Blackbird.—The passage of this species, though not so heavy as that of 1899, was more extended, lasting for nearly two months. The first flight, on Sept. 26th, consisted almost entirely of young cocks. On the following day very few Blackbirds remained on the coast, but among these were a few old cocks. On Oct. 29th another large immigration took place, consisting of adult birds of both sexes, a great majority being cocks. On Nov. 8th large numbers again appeared in the coast hedges; these were mostly old males, with a few hens and scarcely any young birds. On 12th they were not quite so abundant as on 8th, about two-thirds being old cocks, the rest old hens and a very few young cocks. Blackbirds were much scarcer on the coast on Nov. 15th, almost all being adults, and cocks largely in excess of hens. By Nov. 20th the passage was practically over, scarcely a bird remaining in the coast hedges.

T. torquatus, Linn. Ring-Ouzel.—A single bird appeared in a hedge near the coast at North Cotes on Oct. 13th. On 25th one was seen in Grainsby Park, and a second found dead. On 28th two were seen near the same place, and one remained until the 31st.

Saxicola œnanthe (Linn.). Wheatear.—A few Wheatears appeared along the sea-bank on July 16th, an unusually early date. I saw no more until Aug. 10th, when a good many arrived, frequenting both the sea-coast and pea-fields adjoining. The passage was over by the middle of September, but I saw single birds on Sept. 19th and Oct. 1st.

Pratincola rubetra (Linn.). Whinchat.—A few in turnipfields at North Cotes on Sept. 19th.

Ruticilla phœnicurus (Linn.). Redstart.—There was no visible migration of this species, the only indication of it being the appearance, on Sept. 19th, of a single individual in a hedge near the coast at North Cotes.

Erithacus rubecula (Linn.). Robin.—Scarcely any migration. A few came in with Blackbirds and a single Goldcrest on Sept. 26th, and again a few took part in the mid-October "rush" on 17th and 18th of that month.

Sylvia cinerea (Bechst.). Whitethroat.—Many appeared in hedges near the sea-bank on the unusually early date of Aug. 8th, but only one or two remained on 10th. A few came in again with Pied Flycatchers on Sept. 7th. I saw three or four on 19th, and one or two on 20th.

S. curruca (Linn.). Lesser Whitethroat.—I shot a single bird of this species from a hedge near the sea-bank at Marsh-Chapel on Oct. 17th.

Regulus cristatus, R.L. Koch. Goldcrest.—This usually abundant migrant was almost entirely absent. I shot one at North Cotes on Sept. 26th, and saw a couple on Oct. 20th, all in hedges near the coast.

Phylloscopus trochilus (Linn.). Willow-Wren.—One Willow-Wren with Whitethroats on Aug. 8th at North Cotes, and a second near the same spot on Sept. 19th.

Acrocephalus phragmitis (Bechst.). Sedge-Warbler.—A single bird in a hedge near the sea-bank on Aug. 8th, undoubtedly an immigrant. Last seen Sept, 22nd.

Accentor modularis (Linn.). Hedge-Sparrow.—An insignificant migration as compared with that of the two previous years. It took part in the mid-October "rush," and was fairly numerous in the coast hedges on Oct. 17th, with Redwings, Thrushes, Robins, &c.

Parus cæruleus, Linn. Blue Titmouse.—The first Blue Titmouse appeared near the coast on Sept. 20th. It next appeared in small numbers on Oct. 18th and 20th, and was numerous on 29th. The migration lasted until Nov. 20th, when a few were to be seen in most of the seaside hedges.

Troglodytes parvulus, Koch. Wren.—I noticed a single bird in a hedge near the sea-bank on Oct. 13th, and on the 17th a few were present in almost every hedge near the coast.

Motacilla lugubris, Temm. Pied Wagtail.—Far scarcer and later than usual. It was fairly abundant in the vicinity of the coast on Sept. 22nd. I noticed a couple at Grainsby on Nov. 14th.

M. melanope, Pall. Grey Wagtail.—One—a young bird—running about on the top of the greenhouse at Grainsby on Oct. 14th.

M. raii (Bonap.). Yellow Wagtail.—A fine old bird by the side of a creek at Tetney on July 23rd, and a couple of young birds at North Cotes on Sept. 20th.

Anthus pratensis (Linn.). Meadow-Pipit.—Very numerous along the coast and in neighbouring turnip-fields on Sept. 19th.

A. obscurus (Lath.). Rock-Pipit.—The first Rock-Pipit on the side of North Cotes Sluice on Sept. 26th; and about half a dozen on the "fitties" on Oct. 17th.

Muscicapa atricapilla, Linn. Pied Flycatcher.—Two or three Pied Flycatchers on Sept. 7th, with Whitethroats, and a single bird which I shot on Oct. 18th—an exceptionally late date.

Hirundo rustica, Linn. Swallow.—Thousands of Swallows along the coast at Tetney and North Cotes on Sept. 20th. They began to get scarce during the first week of October, but on the 10th I noticed a large flock passing S. over Grainsby at such an immense height that they were scarcely visible, looking like grains of sand. Last seen Oct. 15th.

Ligurinus chloris (Linn.). Greenfinch.—Very abundant in reeds and hedges near the coast on Oct. 17th. The flocks consisted of both males and females, and, I think, some young birds; about a third were old cocks. Not nearly so numerous on 18th.

Coccothraustes vulgaris, Pall. Hawfinch.—Less numerous than usual. I saw a few during the first week of November.

Passer domesticus (Linn.). House-Sparrow.—The first large flock appeared in the stubbles near the coast on Oct. 8th. The Sparrow took part in the great immigratory movement of mid-October, large flocks, in company with Tree-Sparrows, Redwings, and Rooks, frequenting the fields adjoining the sea-shore on the 13th, and still larger numbers on the 29th.

P. montanus (Linn.). Tree-Sparrow.—I noticed a few Tree-Sparrows among a large flock of the common species on Oct. 8th at North Cotes, and some small flocks on the 18th. The principal immigration, however, took place in November, and the species was very abundant in the vicinity of the coast on Nov. 12th and 20th, on the latter date in large flocks. In almost every case these birds were associating with the House-Sparrow.

Fringilla cœlebs, Linn. Chaffinch.—A good many Chaffinches—all old cocks—in the hedges near the coast on Oct. 13th. Again, on 20th, flocks were passing over Grainsby in the morning, and I saw many near the coast, apparently all cocks. On 25th a very large flock was feeding on the stubbles at Beesby on the wolds, and, as far as I could see, they also consisted entirely of cocks.

F. montifringilia, Linn. Brambling.—Though a great beechmast year, Bramblings were almost entirely absent. A single bird near the sea-bank at North Cotes on Oct. 20th was the only one I noted.

Linota cannabina (Linn.). Linnet.—Very large flocks of Linnets frequented the fields near the coast and the foreshore from the middle of September to the middle of October, when they gradually disappeared.

L. flavirostris (Linn.). Twite.—A flock of about twenty Twites came in at North Cotes on the evening of Oct. 17th. On the following day I found one large flock and several small parties on stubble-fields near the coast, and on the 20th some large flocks were feeding on the "fitties."

Emberiza miliaria, Linn. Corn-Bunting.—Hundreds in the turnip-fields at North Cotes on Sept. 20th. Again, on Oct. 8th, a considerable number in the turnip-fields near the coast, and on the 13th a good many, with Yellowhammers, in the stubbles at North Cotes.

E, citrinella, Linn. Yellowhammer.—On Oct. 1st, and again on the 8th, a considerable number of Yellowhammers appeared in the coast hedges and adjoining land, and they were very abundant in the stubbles on the 13th.

E. schœniclus, Linn. Reed-Bunting.—Several Reed-Sparrows along the coast and adjoining hedges on Oct. 17th, all being females or young. On the 29th a good many on the "fitties," and in reeds and hedges in the vicinity of the coast; and on Nov. 12th they were very abundant in the seaside hedges, males and females being present in equal numbers.

Plectrophenax nivalis (Linn.). Snow-Bunting.—Almost entirely absent. On Nov. 8th I observed a couple on North Cotes sands, one an old very white bird, the other immature.

Sturnus vulgaris, Linn. Starling.—A few small flocks of Starlings appeared on Tetney "fitties" on Aug. 10th. On Sept. 27th Starlings swarmed in flocks of many thousands everywhere on the coast marshes and on the "fitties," an enormous immigration having undoubtedly taken place during the previous night. On Oct. 13th small numbers were coming in from the sea all day until about three o'clock, and again on 17th small flocks, with Peewits, coming in from N.E. until 3.30 in the afternoon.

Corvus monedula, Linn. Jackdaw.—A few Jackdaws took part in the great immigratory flight of Rooks on Oct. 20th. Once three came in alone, but the majority mingled with the flocks of their larger relatives. The direction of flight was N.W., almost in the face of a stiff N.N.W. breeze. One or two stragglers again appeared on the coast in company with Rooks on Nov. 1st.

C. corone, Linn. Carrion-Crow.—Two or three Carrion Crows appeared on Tetney "fitties" on Oct. 13th. On the 23rd I noticed over a hundred of these birds coming in to roost in Fenby Top Wood, a considerable increase in their numbers having apparently taken place about this time.

C. cornix, Linn. Grey Crow.—Two on the sea-bank at North Cotes on Sept. 27th, but no more until Oct. 8th, when a couple were seen at Grainsby. Grey Crows took part in the great movement of Oct. 20th, and were passing to N.W. along the shore all day until about 3 o'clock, either singly or in small parties of four or five flying close to the sand.

C.frugilegus, Linn. Rook.—The Rook was almost the only bird whose immigration during the past autumn assumed unusual proportions. Commencing on Oct. 8th, the passage of this bird reached its height on the 20th, and terminated about Nov. 1st. The flight of Oct. 20th was one of the largest that I have ever witnessed. On reaching the coast I observed an unbroken stream of Rooks travelling steadily to the N.W., almost in the teeth of a stiff N.N.W. breeze. The flock was scarcely more than fifty yards wide, and the birds were flying close to the ground, only rising to clear hedges, trees, or buildings which obstructed their line of flight. I watched the passage for about half an hour, and it was still progressing when I left. Numerous other flocks, large and small, were also coming in from the sea; but the passage came abruptly to an end at one o'clock.

Alauda arvensis, Linn. Sky-Lark.—The Sky-Lark was less numerous on migration than usual. The passage took place, between Oct. 12th and 20th, the direction of flight being generally N.W. On 13th, however, the flocks were moving S. And on the 20th, although the bulk were passing N.W., several flocks went S.W.

Dendrocopus major (Linn.). Great Spotted Woodpecker.—I saw one of these Woodpeckers at Fenby on Oct. 21st, and a second at Grainsby on 26th.

Cuculus canorus, Linn. Cuckoo.—On July 16th I observed two Cuckoos on hedges near the coast.

Asio otus (Linn.). Long-eared Owl.—I flushed two or three of these Owls in a small plantation near the sea shore on Nov. 15th. They were the only Owls that I saw on the coast during the autumn.

Accipiter nisus (Linn.). Sparrow-Hawk.—First seen on the coast on Sept. 27th, and fairly numerous on Oct. 1st and 4th.

Falco peregrinus, Tunstall. Peregrine.—First seen on Oct. 14th at Brigsley. A second perched on a dead tree in Grainsby Park on 19th, and on 30th one flying over Fenby Wood.

F. œsalon, Tunstall. Merlin.—Only seen once—a young female—at Saltfleet Haven on Sept. 22nd.

F. tinnunculus, Linn. Kestrel.—Fairly numerous on the coast during the autumn, particularly between Sept. 20th and Oct. 4th.

Ardea cinerea, Linn. Heron.—Herons were very numerous on the flats at Tetney by the middle of July, mostly young birds. On Oct. 13th I saw a party of seven or eight on Grainthorpe "fitties."

Botaurus stellaris (Linn.). Bittern.—Since I left Lincolnshire I heard that a Bittern had been shot at North Cotes on Dec. 24th.

Anser brachyrhynchus, Baillon. Pink-footed Goose.—Wild Geese were more abundant than in any recent winter. The first flock, numbering thirty-three birds, passed over Tetney Lock on Oct. 11th, and other flocks were frequently seen all through October and November. On the 14th of the latter month one of the largest migrations of Geese that I have ever witnessed took place. On that morning, between 8 and 9 o'clock, seven large flocks passed over Grainsby from W. to E. The number of birds in each flock varied from about two hundred in the largest to under thirty in the smallest, and all were well out of gunshot.

Tadorna cornuta (S.G. Gmelin). Sheld-Duck.—I saw a Sheld-Duck on a freshwater creek near the coast at North Cotes on July 16th.

Anas boscas, Linn. Mallard.—Mallards were unusually scarce on the coast throughout the winter.

Spatula clypeata (Linn.). Shoveler.—Two old female Shovelers on a pool of water at Tetney behaved as though they had broods in the reeds on July 16th, but I could see no young Ducks of any sort.

Nettion crecca (Linn.). Teal.—The first pair appeared on July 16th, and the species had become abundant by the 30th.

Mareca penelope (Linn.). Wigeon.—I shot a couple of young birds on North Cotes sluice on Sept. 19th. A great many Wigeon visited the Humber during the winter.

Turtur communis. Selby. Turtle Dove.—Last seen on Sept. 20th; two young birds at North Cotes.

Crex pratensis, Bechst. Land-Rail.—Last seen on Sept. 24th; a single bird in a Turnip field at Tetney.

Porzana maruetta (Leach). Spotted Crake.—Only seen once; a single bird in some reeds near the coast at Tetney on Sept. 20th.

Rallus aquaticus, Linn. Water-Rail.—Appeared somewhat later than usual. I saw a couple near the coast on Nov. 8th.

Charadrius pluvialis, Linn. Golden Plover.— I saw a couple of Golden Plovers at North Cotes on Aug. 17th, and the keeper reported a flock of thirty at the same place on Sept. 1st. Some were heard passing over Grainsby early on the morning of Oct. 22nd, and a flock of about forty appeared on the coast on Nov. 20th.

Squatarola helvetica (Linn.). Grey Plover.—A few along Tetney Haven on Aug. 8th, and a considerable number on the sands and "fitties" at Grainthorpe Haven on Oct. 13th.

Vanellus vulgaris, Bechst. Lapwing.—The migration of the Peewit was an unusually heavy one, commencing on Oct. 9th, and continuing daily until the 20th. A second but somewhat smaller immigration took place between Oct. 29th and Nov. 8th. The direction of flight was N.W. in almost every case, and the passage usually came to an end about 2 o'clock in the afternoon. On one day only (Oct. 17th) it lasted until 4 o'clock. On Nov. 18th several flocks passed over to N.

Hæmatopus ostralegus, Linn. Sea-Pie.—Very scarce throughout the autumn. A few small flocks appeared on Oct. 8th.

Phalaropus hyperboreus (Linn.). Red-necked Phalarope.—A Red-necked Phalarope was sent to me at the end of October by a North Cotes Plover-catcher, who informed me that he had caught a similar bird a few days previously, but had kept it too long, and allowed it to spoil (ante, p. 72).

Scolopax rusticula, Linn. Woodcock.—Much scarcer than usual. First appeared on Oct. 17th. The main flight, however, did not occur until Nov. 5th and 6th, in thick foggy weather with S.E. wind.

Gallinago cœlestis (Frenzel). Snipe.—Arrived early, and in considerable numbers on Sept. 19th and 26th. The principal flight, however, appeared almost simultaneously with the Woodcock between Nov. 1st and 8th.

G. gallinula (Linn.). Jack Snipe.—I shot a couple of Jacks on Sept. 26th, and found considerable numbers on Oct. 13th, 18th, and 29th.

Tringa alpina, Linn. Dunlin.—First seen July 30th. Were very scarce all the autumn.

T. canutus, Linn. Knot.—A few small flocks came in on Aug. 10th, and some larger ones on Sept. 22nd. On Nov. 20th, after some very rough weather on the North Sea, great clouds of Knot appeared on the North Cotes sands.

Totanus hypoleucus (Linn.). Common Sandpiper.—Two or three Sandpipers appeared on the marsh drains on July 16th. By the 23rd they were fairly numerous, and I saw the last on Sept. 19th.

T. glareola (Gmelin). Wood-Sandpiper.—I saw a Wood-Sandpiper on a freshwater creek near Tetney Lock on July 23rd, and another, or perhaps the same bird, on Aug. 8th.

T. ochropus (Linn.). Green Sandpiper.—I observed several of these birds on the marsh drains and creeks near the coast on July 16th. Very few remained after the middle of September.

T. calidris (Linn.). Redshank.—Unusually large flocks frequented the "fitties" at Tetney and Grainthorpe at the end of September, particularly on the 22nd and 27th.

T. canescens (Gmelin). Greenshank.—Appeared on Tetney "fitties" on Aug. 10th. Last seen on Grainthorpe "fitties" on Sept. 22nd.

Limosa lapponica (Linn.). Bar-tailed Godwit.—Very scarce. I did not see any until Oct. 8th, when a few small flocks appeared on North Cotes sands.

Numenius arquata (Linn.). Curlew.—On the nights of July 22nd and 27th I heard the cries of Curlews passing over Grainsby, apparently travelling from E. to W.A few appeared on the coast on July 30th, but were less numerous than usual until Oct. 8th, when some large flocks came in.

N. phæopus (Linn.). Whimbrel.—Two or three on the coast on July 30th. A large flock passed over Grainsby on the morning of Aug. 10th. Last seen on the coast on Sept. 22nd.

Sterna minuta, Linn. Little Tern.—A flock of six immature birds of this species on the coast at Donna Nook on Sept. 22nd. The Arctic Tern was very abundant about this time.

Mergulus alle (Linn.). Little Auk.—A living example of this species was found in a drain at the inland parish of North Thoresby by a labourer, but it was dead when it reached me. The weather in the North Sea had been extremely bad for some days previous to its appearance.

Podicipes fluviatilis (Tunstall). Little Grebe.—Two of these little birds appeared on North Cotes sluice on Oct. 13th, one of them being in perfect breeding plumage.


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