Dash to the coast

Across the country the nation collectively groaned as the weather forecasts came in. Summer it seems was coming to a very abrupt end with gales and heavy rain predicted from midweek and over the weekend. Only one select group of people were eyeing up the predictions with relish. Northerly, and easterly winds, even some rain, birders on the east coast were rubbing their hands together at the thought of masses of migrant, common and rare, crossing from the continent. More than one booked last minute time off work as they themselves migrated to the coast.

Ringers also pricked their ears up at the forecast, constantly monitoring the changing weekend conditions with the hope of some sort of break, or brief pause in the storm that might bring suitable conditions to try and catch some of those birds that had made it to the coast.

Saturday was looking a total wash out with heavy rain and strong wind forecast all day. Sunday though, now Sunday was looking good. It seemed a respite in the wind and rain was coming.

Friday night and the forecast although improving on Saturday afternoon was still suggesting that Sunday would be the day. Of course the British weather being the British weather meant a certain pair of ringers woke up (thankfully reasonably early) on Saturday morning to find calm overcast conditions! Perfect for ringing but we were an hour from the coast! A frantic morning of throwing everything in the car (ringing kit, camping kit, food, blankets, dogs stuff, dog!….) and we made a dash for the coast.

All ready for a weekend ringing at the coast

It was not too bad all things considered… nets were up and birds were being caught by 10:30ish. Before the rain and wind then settled in, over 110 birds were caught and ringed. Most being robins and blackcaps, all recently arrived, but a few brambling and song thrush added to the mix and a special treat of a yellow-browed warbler one of those more rarer migrants….

Large numbers of robins recently arrived on the coast

Along the coast the conditions on Sunday were challenging for birders, with squally showers and strong winds, but the odd interesting birds were turning up, not least a spattering of yellow-browed warblers and for us, a wonderful view of a great grey shrike.

Not a bad blustery weekend after all….

The stunning yellow-browed warbler

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