Sunday 19 June 2022

Wryneck influx in Cornwall Autumn 2021

  Wryneck in Cornwall is classed as a fairly rare passage migrant.  The 10 year rolling average is 40 individuals at the end of 2019.  The majority of records occur in September.  Wryneck is rare in Spring.

Wryneck at Botallack, Steve Rogers.

The species breeds widely across Europe to Japan but is declining.  The last confirmed breeding in the UK was 2002.  Wryneck has never bred in Cornwall.

The first sighting in 2021 was at Pendeen on the 2nd April followed by two at the Lizard on 19th and 21st April.  The last Spring record was one on 19th May at Nanjizal.

The first Autumn record was found at Porthgwarra on the 12th August.  Numbers were soon to increase due to exceptional changes in the weather.  The weather across Europe at the end of August was exceptionally warm with a constant easterly wind.  A European record high of 48.8 degrees was announced in Sicily and southern Europe seemed to be gripped by extreme heat.  This high pressure continued through to mid September and was perfect for drift migration.  

Rarities in the county included Rufous Bush Robin and Greenish Warbler.  Unusually high numbers of flycatchers and Whinchats were also caught up this weather system. Wryneck reports came thick and fast as well.  Cornwall seemed to be awash with them.  Sightings were reported nearly every day to the CBWPS news team from 26th August through to 21st September.  

The peak migration period was between 6th and 15th September.  An unprecedented maximum of five were seen in the Nanjizal valley area on 12th September.  Whilst there is some overlap in reports, it is considered probable that at least 60 birds were involved in the September movement.

Two late records were notable. Cornwall's tenth Wryneck November report came from Kenidjack on the 5th Nov.  Cornwall's second and latest ever December record came on the 5th at nearby Botallack.  The two reports are geographically close and could conceivably relate to the same individual.

Source: Submitted reports to the CBWPS news team and compiled by Hilary Mitchell.

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