I’m thinking of doing this next year

This year I’ve been recording birds in/from my east Northants garden with a bit more effort and structure than usual. And it’s been a pretty good summer so sitting in the garden has been a frequent pleasure – and for a birder it’s impossible not to listen and look for birds continually. It was pointed out to me, in a gentle way, recently, that most people do not have conversations of this type ‘… yes, I guess we could but …Stock Dove … we were planning to…’ quite as regularly as ours.

But however nice recent evenings have been, the evenings are undoubtedly drawing in and so the birding element is largely curtailed by 7pm these days and the timing of dusk is only heading in one direction for about three months between the equinox and winter solstice.

But the birds keep flying over, even at night.

Have you spottd the new game in town – recording nocturnal migration? Literally, recording the calls of overflying birds automatically and then analysing them later to identify what they were? Noc Mig.

I’ve been intrigued and slightly frightened by the prospect of being able to do this – it’s another thing to occupy time, and potentially expense and it all sounds quite difficult. But I found this website by two BTO staff, Simon Gillings and Nick Moran and that is making me feel a bit braver. So I’m thinking of giving it a go from next year (well, probably from this year but I may write about it next year).

If anyone out there has any experiences, good or bad, or cautionary tales of what to do or not to do, then leave a comment here or get in touch.

A whole new world may be about to open up … or not.

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5 Replies to “I’m thinking of doing this next year”

  1. Good luck with that Mark.
    Urban peregrines have been 'noc migging' for years Mark eg by catching night migrants passing over city centres and leaving their remains lying about for us to find and identify. Urban floodlighting (eg of cathedrals), aided by moonlight, provide the falcons with an easy chance of a night time snack or more accurately it seems, an important food source.
    Here in Derby we have found the remains of such nocturnal migrants as corncrake, quail, water rail, little grebe plus as many as twelve species of wader including jack snipe, both godwits, whimbrel, dunlin, woodcock etc.
    Obviously, some night migrants will be either too small or large for these 'nature detectives' to intercept....so noc miggers are not starting from a blank piece of paper exactly....though they are throwing up some fascinating species....

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  2. Simon is one of two noc-miggers based in Cambridge - they are about 3km apart and rarely the same thing as their spots are east-west of each other, hence rarely intercept the same birds as far as we can tell. They get some fascinating nocturnal pasage over the city, including bittern, common scoter and quail. However, where I feel it really adds value is by highlighting peak passage periods for some of the more common migrants. For instance, as county recorder I have access to their data, and can plot all the thrush species - there are real differences in peak autumn passage time for Song thrush, Blackbird, Redwing and Fieldfare - its really fascinating being able to get to a bigger body of data behind the daily records of a single location.

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  3. Thanks for flagging nocmig.com, Mark, and I hope you find it useful!

    A couple of tips: have a look at https://nocmig.com/equipment/ for a quick summary of what (/what not!) to buy when you're starting out (a USB mic and an extension lead is a good, cheap way of trying it out) and – as I'm sure you will! – do consider building in structure to your recording activities from the outset: https://nocmig.com/2018/08/30/standardised-nocturnal-flight-call-monitoring/

    Good luck, let us know if you have any queries, and have fun!
    Nick

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  4. Seems like a whole new birding experience is out there available for those who want it. Must find out more.

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