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Flocking up and Migration


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The last few mornings, just after it starts getting light I've watched small flocks of pigeon coming over my place of work. This only lasts an hour then it goes quiet.

Today I was out on site over the Wolverhampton/ Stourbridge area and again noticed flocks of pigeons moving over head but this was happening most of the day. Has anyone else started seeing the yearly movement of birds yet? I find this migration period fascinating. Myself and PC have spoke quite often about it and how the birds use the Severn Valley to move up and down the country. 
 

Ben

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Last Wednesday 27th saw the first of the migrants here. Approx. 2,000 came to the village at first light. I shot birds from the line in the morning and afternoon and not one of them had even the slightest bit of food in their crops. I believe they had been travelling overnight.

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5 hours ago, JDog said:

Last Wednesday 27th saw the first of the migrants here. Approx. 2,000 came to the village at first light. I shot birds from the line in the morning and afternoon and not one of them had even the slightest bit of food in their crops. I believe they had been travelling overnight.

Do you think they are young pigeons travel south rather than migrating birds?

In my part of north Northumberland I have not personally witnessed any large influx of pigeons during the winter months-I just thought they would prefer the warmer counties.

I have in the past shot some smaller wood pigeons which perhaps have been foreigners.

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2 minutes ago, JDog said:

The pigeons were half old and half young. The older ones had new quills around their necks.

Been a good year round here lots of young birds. Also numbers are building up nothing on the rape or berries yet but the stubbles are disappearing fast. With the price of fertilizer going through the roof a lot are planting beans instead or opting for spring crops a lot more. 

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Late October we invariably get an influx of pigeons from a NE to SW direction; Early morning(7.30- 9am) in the main but they can just now go on all day & number well into the thousands sometimes . I am just north of Hereford. Started this year about 22nd/23rd October but funnily enough not every day with two or three days when I noticed nothing. Every farmer in this area was drilling winter wheat around 22nd. & it just happened that they lifted the spuds in the fields behind my house at that time , ploughed behind the lifters & then drilled on some fairly wet ground. The next two days saw 3-400 pigeons on these fields after seeing nothing in this neck of the woods for months. Of course ,as a retired man with time on his hands I had to have a go... & had a very good bag. Could probably have shot it the next day as well as they all returned until the surface grain had gone.

 These birds seemed to be slightly smaller than the pigeons I shoot at other times of the year , nearly all were in the final stages of a moult with blood feathers over head & neck, but with only a very small percentage of young birds which you would expect at this time of the year.

  They are now all over the place on Hawthorn hedges (where there's a huge crop of berries around here) & have also started on the rape where there are patches. They would normally go onto the acorns at this time but we have no acorns at all this year unfortunately. The usual behaviour of this influx of birds is that they stay for a week or two & then seem to disperse or move on. They were still coming over yesterday , but with family commitments over the w/end I fear they may have moved on by the time I can get out again.

  Also the game dealer who usually takes my pigeons has had labour shortages this year ,& once the game season started was too busy to take any pigeons. This unfortunately limits my shooting as now my only outlets are pubs & restaurants which I trickle feed hoping to make enough freezer room to justify killing some more. Never perfect is it!

 

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Hi I’ve mentioned before that the pigeons have been flocking up from July for about five years. I’ve seen large flocks in the winter drop from very high onto growing wheat fields that pigeons have been resting on near to rape fields. It’s like when geese arrive and drop from nowhere. The bad winter of 62 to 63 l was shooting pigeons and when I came off the field a man asked could he look at the pigeons I had shot to see the condition of them. He told me in the 50s a flock of pigeons had been seen flying down the coast that was two miles long. He told me people have been watching pigeons on the coast for years and they will fly out to sea and come back further down the coast. We are still watching them now and I don’t think we know much more about them. Pigeons always flock in winter and follow the food supply and a lot of them will be young birds. Each year more pigeons are roosting and breeding in towns and cities and feeding from garden bird tables . In the 50s they would write down how many pigeons they saw and report it. Now they could film them on their phone and call other people in the direction the pigeons are flying and see were they are going to. I don’t know if they still watch them on the coast, they watch them in city parks and ring them.

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9 minutes ago, Gas seal said:

Hi I’ve mentioned before that the pigeons have been flocking up from July for about five years. I’ve seen large flocks in the winter drop from very high onto growing wheat fields that pigeons have been resting on near to rape fields. It’s like when geese arrive and drop from nowhere. The bad winter of 62 to 63 l was shooting pigeons and when I came off the field a man asked could he look at the pigeons I had shot to see the condition of them. He told me in the 50s a flock of pigeons had been seen flying down the coast that was two miles long. He told me people have been watching pigeons on the coast for years and they will fly out to sea and come back further down the coast. We are still watching them now and I don’t think we know much more about them. Pigeons always flock in winter and follow the food supply and a lot of them will be young birds. Each year more pigeons are roosting and breeding in towns and cities and feeding from garden bird tables . In the 50s they would write down how many pigeons they saw and report it. Now they could film them on their phone and call other people in the direction the pigeons are flying and see were they are going to. I don’t know if they still watch them on the coast, they watch them in city parks and ring them.

You are right about large numbers of pigeons flying down the East coast in late Autumn , early Winter.

In the 60s and early 70s we took fishing parties out in the Winter months for the early Whitings  and then the Cod , you wouldn't see them every time you went out but there were days when they would be flying in South / East direction , numbers would be from a small bunch to a small cloud that would run into the 100s , this could be on a calm day and you could bet a pound to a penny that a few days later it would turn rough and often very cold, we never knew if they came over from the E U or if they had flown down from the highlands of Scotland , the Pigeons when shot always seemed slightly smaller and darker in colour , this might have nothing to do where they came from as a lot could have been late hatched youngsters .

Pigeons were not the only birds we would see in large numbers as one day we saw a never ending skein of Brent geese that again must have ran into the low 1000s . plus many more Autumn migrants .

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