Spring migration along the Baltic Sea coast

BuchfinkSunrise over the southern shore of the Baltic Sea. Grey dots swinging in the air reveal themselves as migrating songbirds. And there were masses of grey dots. One flock after another passed the steep cliff of the island of Usedom in the morning of eastern. A fresh wind blowing from the south obviously pushed the birds from their wintering grounds up to the north. At the southern coast of the Baltic Sea the birds realized the huge area of open water and preferred to stay on an eastern direction to reach their breeding territories.

Up to that the sunny, windy Sunday morning only the very first migrating songbirds as Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) and European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) could be found quite numerous in the bushes of the island of Usedom in north-eastern Germany. But following the wind from the south, masses of Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus) appeared over the canopy of the woods along the coast. Sometimes the numbers of Common Wood-Pigeon accounted for 50 individuals in one flock. Songbirds – the grey dots – were characterized with high numbers mainly of Great Tit (Parus major) and Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) and good numbers of Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus), Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla) and Eurasian Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus).

Other small finches participated in the migrations flocks as well. A European Serin (Serinus serinus) obviously was so glad to have reached so far in the north, that it started singing high from a beech tree its beautiful song. After that the Serin started its display flight showing the white windows in the wings very well.

Although the winter has not been really cold and snow did show only on in total consecutive 2 weeks, low temperatures were predominant for quite a chilly March. The winter – at least in the continental climate range of East Germany – did not want to leave according to climate change forecasts. Temperatures in March did not exceed 8 °C until mid of month and did rise only reluctantly until the end of the month – or better – until this Easter weekend. Only around 25th of March a rise in temperatures up to 15 ° C could be observed. On Good Friday, the air warmed again only at 8 ° C, it was raining from a completely overcast sky. The wind was blowing moderately from predominantly westerly directions. The Saturday showed sun technically at its best. No clouds in the sky, a light breeze, only a slight ripple on the water surface. Later, during the day, sun and clouds alternated, and the wind freshened from the south to moderate. Then the rapid weather change. Decent Wind on Easter Sunday in the early morning with over 35 km/ h from southern directions. It was sunny until late afternoon. The wind picked-up to 55 km/ h (i.e. 7 Bft) on. The wind seemed the birds but even more so to animate migration.

In summary it can be said that it is worthwhile on migration periods to keep an eye on the weather forecast. Just a change in the weather with southern, sometimes westerly winds after cool days with eastern wind, should attract the attention.

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