Sunday 12 November 2023

Vis Mig and Wood Pigeon Count

We've had three really nice mornings during the last week that have seen a heavy passage of Wood Pigeons fly west.  I didn't have any time to stand and count on two of the days (5th & 11th - both great days) but on 6th I did...

I spent 07:30 - 08:30 at Cliff Field Gardens in Seaton, my chosen Patchwork Challenge patch vis mig spot.  It is dreadful to be honest, although higher in altitude than the town and beach, the site is still far lower than Axe Cliff to the east and Seaton Hole/Beer Head to the west.  There isn't a view inland, although the view of the bay is really nice, but worst of all it is just too noisy with the constant sound of crashing waves to the south and traffic noise along Beer Road to the north. 

The blue arrow is pointing at Cliff Field Gardens.  Including this spot for vis mig was the only reason for that narrow extension of my Patchwork Challenge patch west along the coast.

Last time I tried watching from here the passerines were mostly too high to hear/identify, however during this watch they were much lower, presumably due to the northerly wind.  The following went into my notebook during the hour:

17,400 Wood Pigeon, 330 Chaffinch (some lovely flocks of up to 30 birds), 130 Starling, 65 Jackdaw, 40+ Stock Dove, 30 Goldfinch, 25 Linnet, 12 Siskin, 3 Brambling, 1 Redpoll, 1 Redwing, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Great Northern Diver and 1 small goose sp. in/off (presumably a Brent but always in bad light).

Hopefully the video gives you a flavour of the Wood Pigeon passage, with all the biggest flocks out over the sea...  

And now the moment you've all been waiting for... the result of my Count the Wood Pigeons post!

Despite almost 200 post views I have only had five guesses, so many thanks to those brave enough to offer their opinions!  The guesses ranged from 550 to 1500.  The average of all guesses comes in at 914, with the mid-point (middle point between highest and lowest guess) at 1,025.  This is pleasingly close to the figure that went into my notebook when I saw the flock in the field, a simple '1k'.  

Here is the (poor quality!) video again...

And here is that video in three stills.  I have counted from the front of the flock just as I would in the field, but probably missed a few birds between capturing frames...

Just under 500 in the first frame!

500 in the second frame!

And an odd 82 following on from the last few from the final block of 100 in the third frame.

So the answer is (give or take the odd one) 1,082!  Well done Nick Page for being the closest, matching my in-field estimation of 1,000.

Another storm is coming through in the morning, but I've probably only got time for a beach walk or two so hopefully that will reveal something.

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