Wood pigeon migration over Torbay

The text below is from Mark Thomas RSPB...


The night of Monday 5th November saw me and another RSPB Investigations colleague staying at the Premiere Inn at Torquay ahead of the court case involving the egg collectors and nest disturbers Betteridge and Crang the following day.


Dawn broke with clear blue skies and ideal conditions for Wood Pigeon migration, I was aware that Wood Pigeons had been moving in the last few days over Bedfordshire from my vismig watching. But I had no real idea if WP’s moved this far West but I had my bins and at 0715hr walked to the seafront to get some air.


Looking NE I immediately picked up a group of 700 WP’s high over the east of the bay and coming directly over my position., Looking in the general direction that these birds were heading I latched on to another group of about 800 birds that must have passed over a few minutes before and were now over Brixham in a massive wave. Another massive ball of birds suddenly swung in from the NE and before long I was on 5000. Looking due North I also saw several groups every 50 seconds heading high SW over the land.


This continued for well over 30 minutes, before the birds coming overhead dried up. Looking south, it soon became apparent that the passage had now moved further to the south and that the birds were now cutting the bay directly E to W. This allowed a very good ‘side on’ view of the movement. Around this time I was joined by Josh Marshall and my colleague Guy Shorrock. Thousands of birds were streaming past with flocks ahead, mid distance and almost out of visual range. Looking to the west the scene was colossal, as the angle of view meant that the flocks all appeared to merge in to one mass migration, like beast on the plains!


Exact counting was impossible but at one point I could see 12 flocks of 500 birds alone ! At 0815hrs I had to drag myself away but had counted just over 40000 individuals. Twenty minutes later I was back dressed for court and immediately noticed that the passage appeared to have dried up. It was one of the most amazing and unexpected bird events I have ever seen !


Mark Thomas



Posted November 8th, 2012 at 5:24 pm by Josh Marshall in Bird News