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'On the Eve of the First World War, the single Siberian province of Irkutsk was larger than all of India'

Spring is in the air as migrating birds flock EARLY to Siberia

By 0 and 0 and 0
04 April 2016


'Typically, the first arrival of the swans is recorded in mid-March. This year they appeared a week earlier than usual.' Picture: Armen Zakh

Ornithologists across Siberia have registered record early arrivals for many species of birds as they fly north from wintering in warmer climates. In the Russian Far East, swans returned to the Sea of Okhotsk a full week earlier than usual. 

Two birds-'scouts' were spotted in Salmon Cove on 8 March, before flying back to Hokkaido in Japan, but very returning with more birds. Ornithologist Andrew Zdorikov said 25 swans were seen in the cove by 19-20 March. These are the advance guard of up to 35,000 swans. 

'Typically, the first arrival of the swans is recorded in mid-March. This year they appeared a week earlier than usual, due to global warming, and a warm winter with little snow.'

Sakhalin swans

Sakhalin swans

Sakhalin swans

Ornithologist Andrew Zdorikov said 25 swans were seen in the cove by 19-20 March. These are the advance guard of up to 35,000 swans. Pictures:,  AKS

The pattern is repeated in many places. In Novosibirsk region, migratory birds are arriving for their breeding season 10 to 12 days ahead of normal dates. Alexey Yanovsky, a research fellow in the Institute of Systematics and Ecology of Animals, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, said: 'Because of the warm spring, they rushed to our region. 

'If it suddenly becomes cold, they can fly away to the Kazakhstan for a while. A kite was spotted on Wednesday [March 30] by my colleagues, and on Thursday I saw it myself. Usually they arrive in mid-April, but in recent years tend to arrive earlier and earlier.' Herring gulls were also seen arriving unexpectedly early. 

In neighbouring Omsk, where a huge increase in sunshine was recorded in March, rooks were recorded on 9 March in some districts. By 13 March they were visible throughout the west Siberian region. The first whooper swans appeared near the village Orekhovo in Odessky region on 14 March. 

Siberian birds

Siberian birds

Siberian birds

Early guests spotted in Siberia: Great White Egret, gull and rook. Pictures: Siberian Birdwatching Community

The next day they were spotted in Stepnoy Nature Reserve. Close behind them appeared starlings. Leading ornithologist, Professor Sergey Soloviov, of Omsk State University, commented: 'Normally starlings in our region appear in the last ten days of March and sometimes even in early April. 

'The early return of birds suggests that the process of global warming is ongoing. Birds feel the warm wave and lengthening of daylight hours, they cannot be fooled.'

In March, Omsk weather station recorded 185 hours of sunshine. This is 61 hours more than average levels. In mountainous southern Siberia, bird-watcher Andrey Ebel, from Barnaul, said: 'This year many migratory birds appeared in Altai region much earlier than usual. 

'First, as usual, came flocks of rooks and jackdaws. They were spotted in the southwest back in late February. Behind them at the beginning of March, there were wild pigeons. These three species 'open' the spring migration.  

Siberian birds

Siberian birds

Siberian birds

Starlings, grey eglets and black headed gulls spotted in Siberia much earlier this yera. Pictures: Siberian Birdwatching Community

'The first starlings were spotted on 11 March and three days later they were observed almost everywhere in the region. Large Barabinsk gulls appeared on 15 March and a day later the first finches were observed in Barnaul.

'On 18 March began the arrival of black kites, on 19 March - gray herons, while on the same day the first group of geese was spotted in the south-west of region. On March 20 field larks began to sing and they flew to the north-east. On March 23 near nesting sites were spotted Red Imperial eagles and the first black-headed gull.'

This 'wave' now includes linnets, gulls, reed buntings, snipe, and great egrets. 'To date we have noted 20 species of birds arriving with us from warmer places,' he said. 

Barnaul ornithologist Nadezhda Irisova said starlings, finches, larks usually arrive in late March - early April. The rooks come usually on 18-19 March. The gulls normally appear by 10-15  April. 

Comments (4)

Thank you Jaap :)
Petr, Tiksi
06/04/2016 01:59

Jaap, Dorst, the Netherlands
06/04/2016 01:38
Does the Siberian Birdwatching Community have a website please?
Petr, Tiksi
06/04/2016 00:54
It is always a great émotion to see the migrating birds come back, thanks. The average on many years is may be(?) necessary to conclude about new rules on migration date? What about the precedent springs?
Jocelyne, FRANCE
05/04/2016 02:13

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