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Spring Migration
Diane Wood, Wildlife Correspondent
Razorbills arriving at Filey Brigg. Photo by Andy Moore
Migration is the seasonal movement of a population of animals from one area to another. It is usually a response to changes in temperature, precipitation, food supply or daylight length, and is mainly undertaken for the purposes of breeding and to aid survival.

Many species of mammals, insects, fish, amphibians and birds migrate; some migrating long-distance across continents and others short distances over a few hundred metres. Spring and autumn are the main migration seasons.

The razorbill is a long-distance migratory bird. My friend in Filey recently took this photo of razorbllls returning to Filey Brigg from their winter sites in the north Atlantic to nest on the cliff ledges.

The razorbills will be joined by guillemots, both of whose young unusually leave their nests at about three weeks old before their flight feathers are formed. They jump off the cliff ledges and free fall into the sea below to where their parents are calling them down.

The nearby Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs Special Protection Area that was originally designated as a European site for important numbers of black-legged kittiwake, was extended in August 2018 and now includes this area from Filey Brigg up to Cunstone Nab.

It extends protection to razorbills, guillemots and gannets that can be seen there during the breeding season.

Waxwing departing from Filey. Photo by Andy Moore
At the same time, look out for our winter visitors departing out of Yorkshire to their breeding grounds abroad, such as fieldfare, redwing, brambling, Bewick’s and whooper swans.

Waxwings are winter visitors, but are called irruption migrants. This means they don’t visit the UK in winter every year, just when their food (berries) is short in their usual breeding and wintering grounds in Scandinavia.

Once they have eaten all the berries at the east coast in autumn, they will move inland and can often be seen foraging in parks, on ornamental planted trees in town centres and in supermarket car parks. They fly back towards the coast in spring to migrate back to Scandinavia.

Whether flying long-distances like birds or jumping short distances like frogs and toads, migrating can be dangerous.

Common toad. Photo by Froglife
The common toad is an early short-distance migrant that emerges from hibernation any time after January depending on the temperatures.

It is very particular about where it breeds and it will migrate faithfully along the same route every year back to its natal breeding pond.

This can often lead to toads having to cross increasingly busy roads and suffer traffic accidents.

Since the early 1980s, the charity Froglife has managed a ‘Toads on Roads’ project which now has 730 registered hot-spots for toad crossings and co-ordinates the local toad patrols.

Also by Diane Wood...
April Bat Update
All Things Amphibian……
Early Birds…..
Preparing For The Water Voles
A Look At Bats In Winter
Froglife is looking for volunteers to become ‘toad patrollers’ who help toads safely across roads during spring. In 2018, toad patrollers saved 98,483 common toads as they tried to cross roads.

There are numerous toad crossings already registered in Yorkshire that are looking for more patrollers. For further information see the Froglife website at: https://www.froglife.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Toad-Patrol-Pack-for-Patrollers.pdf

Spring Migration, 9th March 2019, 9:37 AM