17million immigrants per year

17 million tiny immigrants, like Chiffchaff, pipits and swallows who come to the British Isles for the summer are now leaving in masses, as seen on BBC Autumnwatch on  Friday night.

"I've got to fly to WHERE?"

"I've got to fly to WHERE?" says the young Chiffchaff...

To dare to cross the churning seas and the mountainous continent of Europe, and possibly the deserts of the Sahara too, is brave, you might think. Definitely impressive. As Chris Packham points out, it’s also essential. They must have the food they need to survive and breed.

By leaving our shores these African-European birds gain another breeding season per year, and escape the death toll of our winter – starvation being the top cause of death for residents such as Blue Tit. (No, it’s not Sparrowhawks!)

At the Autumnwatch blog, Martin Hughes-Games has asked people to post reports of singing Chiffchaff. In part this signals how many Chiffchaff are still here, but they might find that on sunny days well into Autumn, the song reappears. Because, as the BTO tells us on their migration page about Chiffchaff, some of these warblers are taking on the overwinter challenge.

I haven’t heard Chiffchaff this week, but I did see about 25 swallows at Bockhampton Down, near Lambourn. Also here in Berkshire I hunted out toadstools at Wildmoor Heath, on a guided fungus walk with BBOWT.

Follow my autumnal nature notes and photo gallery at BBC Berkshire.

A small Russula with a spiny sweet chestnut

A small Russula with a spiny sweet chestnut. (click to enlarge)

Catch replays and special previews on the Autumnwatch website.

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