Autumn Bird Migration | Nature Watch Project

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As the arrival of October brings many changes to nature, one sight to behold is the UK bird migration. Flocks of swans and geese arriving at our shores and the disappearance of swallows are among the events we may witness this autumn, with many of these processes already well underway. Overall, it is thought that around half of the bird species in Britain migrate at some point throughout the year.

Autumn migration of birds in the UK involves saying goodbye to our summer visitors, which will find much higher numbers of insects to feed on in their southern destinations. These include swallows, which leave us around September/October to return to South Africa after breeding over here. House martins, raptors, nightingales, cuckoos and swifts also head south. Migrating birds tend to prefer to travel along the coast for as long as they can during their migration before they are forced to cross the open seas, a very convenient phenomenon for bird-watchers. 

The autumn migration also involves greeting species that will move from colder parts in the north to the milder UK for their winters, such as pink-footed geese, Bewick’s and whooper swans and winter thrushes (such as fieldfares and redwings). Passage migrants may also be seen. They stop off in the UK during their long journey to other destinations and include species such as green sandpipers.

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