Monday, 13 October 2014

The Big Vis - with Trektellen

Visible migration is one of the thrills of patch birding as squadrons of finches and larks surge overhead and hirundines snake past. We have been asked by Toby Collett and Trektellen to help support this weekends #BigVis - the inaugural visible migration event for birders in the UK and we want you to join in. What better way to get that elusive Lapland Bunting on your patchlist than by joining in?

If you are unfamiliar with Vismigging then it is simply getting to a suitable watchpoint at dawn and watching the diurnal migrants move through. From the 'seep' of the first Meadow Pipits and the twitterings of Goldfinches into the chacking Fieldfare and listening for the 'glip' of a band of crossbills. It is the spectacle of hundreds of birds on the move, with a purpose and with whom you get to share just a few seconds of their existance as the bound ever onward. It makes the common exciting and the commonplace essential as you appreciate Woodpigeons moving en masse or Tree Sparrows going from rural denizens to full-scale migrants. 

Clive Mckay has written a number of articles for our sponsors Birdguides on the subject and they illustrate in a way that I cant what is so special about Vis Mig. Check out here, here and here for the best bits! There are also a couple of articles by Clive in recent Birdwatch magazines which may prove helpful.

So where do you or in fact we come in? Well the count is going to be undertaken by anyone who wants to take part. All you need to do is from dawn until mid-morning when movement has stopped either next Saturday (18th October) or Sunday (19th) count and identify the birds moving over your patch or Vismig point. You need to work in hourly slots from sunrise and note the weather conditions (wind direction and strength, cloud cover, precipitation, visibility and temperature) and keep tallies of each species seen and which direction they were heading e.g. 120 Meadow Pipits S, 16 Meadow Pipits N. Record all this info in a notebook and then our part comes in - we are going to record the data in the same way we do the monthly submissions via a sheet on the right sidebar. Enter the data asked for and you are done! Trektellen will be collating the data and we will hopefully be able to get Mark to produce some pretty pie charts and bar graphs to illustarte what people find. Everyone can take part be they PWC contestants or not so get involved and help further knowledge of bird movements in your neck of the woods!

For those of you on twitter get involved with @trektellen and @patchbirding and the hashtag #BigVis which should keep you up to date with what people are seeing. We suggest that the formal count runs two hours from dawn unless the birds are still moving in which case keep going! Sunrise is 07:44 on Saturday and 07:46 on the Sunday so give yourself plenty of time and settle in to what will hopefully be a great weekends bird movement. 

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