2014 migration

11th of June, 2015 The monitoring results of season 2014 were published in a peer reviewed magazine Hirundo – As the article is in Estonian (apart from table texts), you may be interested in an extended summary in English.

6th of November The monitoring season 2014 ended. You find preliminary numbers and comparision with 2009 here.

30th of October
After some very windy days it got calm and birds were able to continue with their autumn journey. Nice totals were recorded for Red-breasted merganser Mergus serrator (2390), Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena (420), Common Guillemot Uria aalge (23), Little Gull Hydrocoleus minutus (256), Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata (256), Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis (13.000), Common Gull Larus canus (960). The rarer species were represented by King Eider Someteria spectabilis (one in female-like plumage) and Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus (juvenile).
Soopart/ Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) Soopart/ Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) Laisaba-änn/Pomarine Skua dark morph (Stercorarius pomarinus) Laisaba-änn/Pomarine Skua dark morph (Stercorarius pomarinus)

24th of October
King Eider Someteria spectabilis: a local bird with other ducks floated some time between waves until escaped a Grey Seal attack. Another Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans migrating (juv). By this year at the latest seems, that Estonia has become regular range edge for summering and wintering Caspian Gulls.
Caspian Gull/Koldjalg-hõbekajakas (Larus cachinnans) Caspian Gull/Koldjalg-hõbekajakas (Larus cachinnans) Kuninghahk /King Eider (Someteria spectabilis) Kuninghahk /King Eider (Someteria spectabilis)

23rd of October
Seventeen weeks of the season has passed with 1,8 million migrants. Discover the numbers in 5-day periods here

22nd of October
Air temperature stayed whole day near zero. Influx of cold kept birds migrating. Season’s best for Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca with 7960 individuals. Season total for the Velvet Scoter reached 60.000. Also nice movement of Whooper Swans C. cygnus with 52 birds and 122 unidentified swans.
laululuik/Whooper Swan (C. cygnus) laululuik/Whooper Swan (C. cygnus) Sinikael-part/Mallard (Anas plathyrhynchos) Sinikael-part/Mallard (Anas plathyrhynchos)

12th of Oct.
After few quiet days some busy action took place. We counted 55.000 migrating birds today, including Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 447 (season’s best), Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena 51 birds migrating and additionally 118 staging grebes, Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1790 (season’s best), Whooper Swan C. cygnus 56, Barncale Goose Branta leucopsis 20.250, Greater Scaup Aythya marila 1330, Tufted Duck A. fuligula 600, Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis 20.180, Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus 2040. Additionally a spectacular male King Eider Someteria spectabilis was recorded in a flock of Velvet Scoters heading southwest.
Rabapistrik/Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) Rabapistrik/Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) A morning in Põõsaspea A morning in Põõsaspea

4th of Oct. – continuous flow of ducks
Today an international event EuroBirdWatch was celebrated in Põõsaspea by 60-70 visitors as well as by season’s best number of migrants: nearly 90.000 birds. Main actor was Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis with 58.000 birds (early!). The scene was also filled with Velvet Scoters Melanitta fusca (5500), Wigeons Anas penelope (6300), Pintails A. acuta (1050), Scaups Aythya marila (2300), Red-throated Divers Gavia stellata (720), Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis (6800) and Brent Goose B. bernicla (2180). Also worth mentioning: Dunlin Calidris alpina (133) and Grey Plover Pluvialis squaterola (32). Tomorrow we expect many Geese to appear.
Aul / Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) Aul / Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) 5 liiki parte/ 5 species of ducks 5 liiki parte/ 5 species of ducks

Fifteen weeks of the season has passed with 1,5 million migrants. Discover the numbers in 5-day periods here.
EuroBirdWatch 2014 EuroBirdWatch 2014 Valgepõsk-lagle (Branta leucopsis) Valgepõsk-lagle (Branta leucopsis)

30.9.2014 – geese started
Wind changed direction to north after a warm week with westerly winds. This gave a big boost to geese migration with culmination just before sunset. On the top of that, we, the observers, were honored by the presence of Ole Thorup, a great ornithologist from Denmark.

The significant totals of the day included Brent Goose Branta bernicla 17700 (one Black Brant B.b.nigricans), Barnacle Goose B. leucopsis 17250 + unidentified geese 13070, Dunlins Calidris alpina + unidentified waders 520, Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 7, Arctic Skua S. parasiticus 7, Little Gull Hydrocoleus minutus 106, Common Gull L. canus 1800, Guillemot Uria aalge 12. Seasons first flock of four Bewick’s Swans Cygnus columbianus was recorded.
juvenile Brent Geese (Branta bernicla) juvenile Brent Geese (Branta bernicla) Adult Black-throated Diver moulting into the winter plumage Adult Black-throated Diver moulting into the winter plumage
Juvenile male Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) Juvenile male Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) Adult male Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) Adult male Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans – a juvenile bird migrated east after staying some minutes on a rock. The phenomenal occurrence of Pomarine Skuas Stercoraius pomarinus is still going on – five identifyed birds passed the cape today. Also a juvenile Long-tailed Skua S. longicaudus made its autumn journey.
Põõsaspea is a popular birdwatching site! Põõsaspea is a popular birdwatching site! Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans) Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)

Another nice day of Great Scaups Aythya marila: 2050 birds passed the cape. Season’s best for Red-throated Divers Gavia stellata: 1188 individuals. Black-throated Diver G. arctica made much slighter effort: 72 birds. Additionally a local Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus.

Today the influx of Pomarine Skuas Stercorarius pomarinus slowed down: 3 juveniles were recorded (+5 unidentified Skuas). The surprise of the day was Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius, which passed us with three Ringed Plovers. Good amounts of migrating Dunlins Calidris alpina (495), Long-tailed Tits Aegithalos caudatus (270) and Jays Garrulus glandarius (473) were registered.

Pomarine Skua (Stercorarius pomarinus) Pomarine Skua (Stercorarius pomarinus) White-tailed Eagle White-tailed Eagle Ringed Plover and Grey Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius) Ringed Plover and Grey Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius) Jay (Garrulus glandarius) Jay (Garrulus glandarius)

Thirteen weeks of the season has passed. Discover the numbers of migrants in 5-day periods here.

With 2800 Greater Scaups Aythya marila today, season’s total of Scaups reached 30.000. A moderate headwind prevented any spectacular migration and besides the Scaup, just 360 Red-throated Divers are worth to mention. On the other hand the headwind forced the sea-crossing passerines to fly low and we’ve seen some variety of them which isn’t too common at Põõsaspea. The most common of them today was Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis with 200 individuals, but even the tiny Goldcrests can make it over the sea and some tired flyers tried to land on the first possible places such as our tripods. However nicest surprise for the day was an Eagle Owl sitting on the treetops at the cape – a good while after the sunrise.

19.9.2014 – another busy day
In the last days we have witnessed nice migration of Greater Scaups Aythya marila. Today it got even better: 8000 Scaups were recorded (season’s best; additionally 1300 Aythya sp). Tufted Ducks A. fuligula assisted with 1000 individuals. Divers accelerated their migration too: the sum of Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata reached 450 birds, being season’s best as well. Long-tailed Ducks are starting their migration: 375 individuals – adult males mainly. Terrestrial birds were present too. A flock of three Three-toed Woodpeckers Picoides tridactylus made U-turn in the tip of Põõsaspea cape. Since the beginning of season the total of waterbirds reached 1,2 million now.

Greater Scaups & Tufted Ducks (Aythya marila et fuligula) Greater Scaups & Tufted Ducks (Aythya marila et fuligula) A very focused seawatcher A very focused seawatcher

After some days of fog, clear visibility returned and the northeasterly wind led to a good day at the migration front. The continuous observing between 6:30 and 20:30 resulted in over 30.000 migrating birds. Common Scoter Melanitta nigra was still well presented with 20 000 individuals (best in September), mostly adult females. Total of Common Scoters exceeded already 0,8 million in this season! Also wealthy number of 4500 dabbling ducks were recorded, mostly Wigeon Anas penelope (2700). The first wave of Cranes G. grus crossing the Gulf of Finland reached Põõsaspea in the late evening: 1800 birds in 20 flocks, the last ones reaching the mainland in quite dark and there was probably more to come in the following night. It’s also worth to be mentioned 279 Red-breasted Mergansers Mergus serrator, 13 Arctic Skuas Stercorarius parasiticus, and the season’s first Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus. The latter can be regarded as early one. Terrestrial birds are becoming active as well. We recorded 6 Ospreys Pandion haliaetus and 4 Black Woodpeckers Dryocopus maritius among others.
Cranes (G. grus): 16 adults, 4 juveniles Cranes (G. grus): 16 adults, 4 juveniles Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra) Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra)


The day was quite busy in spite of quite a foggy weather. Wigeons Anas penelope showed up with season’s best, 3370 birds. Scaups Aythya marila continued with nice migration seen also in former days: 867 birds today. Geese are definitely a sign of well proceeding autumn. First Bean Geese (2) yesterday made us feel the approaching autumn and today, real autumn was here: the first flock of Brent Geese Branta bernicla was sighted. One could expect a first flock meaning 3 or 4 birds, but no, it included 130 Brent Geese. Brent Goose is a species with breeding range lying at least 3000 km away from here. It is a real Siberian breeding species (Siberia is Asian part of Russia).
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) Wigeons, Shovelers & Pintails Wigeons, Shovelers & Pintails

Ten weeks of the season has passed. Discover the numbers of migrants in 5-day periods here.
The new shelter The new shelter Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)

1.9.2014 – one million reached!
Today, seasons sum of all migrants reached one million birds – two weaks earlier than in 2009. Of this, 75 % have been Common Scoters Melnaitta nigra. This landmak was much celebrated by birds themselves: Black Scoter Melanitta americana passed the cape at 15:40. Season’s sum of Teal Anas crecca reached already 20.000!
Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra) Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra) Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)

Today, in rainy weather 3685 Common Teals Anas crecca passed the site in 176 flocks. The biggest flock consisted of 125 Teals. This was probably all time best migratory sum for the species in Estonia. Also other dabbling ducks were on the move: Shoveler A. clypeata 490, Pintail A. acuta 420, Wigeon A. penelope 243. Rainy weather has forced waders to stop in relatively good numbers, eg. 135 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula were counted, of which 10 % were juveniles.
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

Seven weeks of the season has passed. Common Scoter Melanitta nigra has been ca 10 % more abundant than during similar period in 2009. Discover the numbers of migrants in 5-day periods here.
Flock of Velvet Scoters (Melanitta fusca) Flock of Velvet Scoters (Melanitta fusca) Great Egrets (Egretta alba) Great Egrets (Egretta alba)

Five weeks of the season has passed. Discover the numbers of migrants in 5-day periods here.

Common Buzzard (B. buteo) Common Buzzard (B. buteo) Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus) Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus)


Total sums of many monitored species were similar in July 2014 compared with those of 2009. This applies especially to the ducks. In 2014, the numbers of most wader species have been clearly lower than in 2009. As well as terns and gulls show 15-50 % lower numbers compared with July of 2009.

Common Scoter Melanitta nigra sum was today 36,600 birds.

Over three weeks of the season has passed. Discover the numbers of migrants in 5-day periods here.

21.7.2014 – a very busy day
Common Scoters Melanitta nigra are continuing with intense migration – today’s total spinned over 75.000 individuals. Observers witnessed the peak between 20:00-22:30, when 36.700 Common Scoters passed the site. Season’s total of Common Scoters is now 300,000 individuals and much more is still expected in nearest days.

Other notable observations from the day were season’s best numbers for Velvet Scoters M. fusca (570), Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica (675) and Red-necked Grebes Podiceps grisegena (45).

18.7.2014 – the start of Common Scoters
Nice migration both in the morning and the evening and some wader activity during hot afternoon hours forced us to cover most of the daylight time by monitoring effort. Little Gulls Hydrocoleus minutus kept on coming, 280 adults were counted – the young are still few. Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus were on the move again, 2000 birds today.

Common Scoter Melanitta nigra with 31,700 individuals meant biggest daily sum for this species so far. Number of Dunlin Calidris alpina reached 1600 birds and season’s first Sanderlings Calidris alba passed monitoring point as well. More uncommon migrants for the day included two Garganeys Anas querquedula, two Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and a Red-necked Pahalrope Phalaropus lobatus.

By the end of the day, season’s total of migrants reached 210,000 birds, of which 60 % have been Common Scoters.

9.7.2014 – 100.000 migrants exeeded
Season’s sum of migrating waterbirds exceeded today 100,000 individuals. As expected, most abundant migrants have been Common Scoter Melanitta nigra (51,000), Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus (32,000) and Goldeneye Bucephala clangula (5,800).

Today, first time for the season, adult Sandwich Terns Sterna sandvicensis were assisted by juvenile birds. Similarly juvenile Arctic Terns and Common Terns have been uncommon so far. Opposite to this, the share of migrating juvenile Black-headed Gull has reached about one third.

Should we stay or should we go? Should we stay or should we go?