Friday, 1 November 2013

The invasion of the Wood Pigeon

The last moments of autumn are draining away and soon we will be facing winter and all that it will bring. It's funny that in the summer you forget what it is like to be cold and in the winter feeling the hot sun beat down on your back is a distant memory.

I visited The Scrubs this morning to enjoy the last days of autumn that for me is signalled by the mass movements of high flying Wood Pigeons. Hardly a species that you would link with migration or any other type of local movement.
 Part of the c1,000 that passed over my head
Yet, every year at around this tine over a two week period, a varying number of Wood Pigeons appear from the northeast flying directly overhead southwest.
Against a blue sky they twinkle, their white underwings reflecting the sun's light. I think that they look absolutely gorgeous as they silent move.
Amongst their number are usually small numbers of Stock Doves. I never know that their smaller relative travelled with them until we witnessed a mammoth movement a couple of years ago. On that day in 90 minutes we guestimated that at least 15,000 Wood Pigeons had flown over with at least 300 Stock Doves in their midst.
Where are these birds coming from? Some say from Scandinavia heading to Iberia. Others say that there is no evidence of any such large scale international movement and that it is just local British birds fanning around the country.

Whatever the answer, it is one of my favourite spectacles at The Scrubs and one that I look forward to every year.


holdingmoments said...

Something I always enjoy this time of year too. Some amazing numbers of birds flying to and from who knows where.

Dan Burgess said...

When I was a kid of around ten or so yrs old I remember seeing a huge flock of Birds flying directly overhead.
But as the years passed the vision moved from reality to just something I think I had seen or indeed just dreamt and thought it was a real experience.
I lived in Fulham and not the best place to see migrating birds in such numbers.
It twigged yesterday that it was probably the pigeon migration I'd seen all those years ago.

Andrew Fulton said...

Big numbers up here in Cheshire... plus I have my regular pair in the garden... my dropped bird seed "hoovers"

Joe Beale said...

A very nice post, David. This is surely one of the year's highlights for urban patch birders. It's always a bit melancholy too- as you say it tends to be the end of autumn migration when the big Woodpigeon flocks go through.
You're right to say how beautiful they are to watch, this species can be beautiful and spectacular too and it's available to anyone who gets up early enough!