BTO migration blog

Spring and autumn are exciting times for anyone who watches birds. Here on this blog we will make predictions about when to expect migrant arrivals and departures, so that you know when and where to see these well-travelled birds.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Spring migration 2013 has begun!

With some parts of the UK experiencing a small amount of spring-like weather it is not too surprising that, although it is still very early, migrant birds have started to arrive on our shores. Two Ospreys were reported this week, one on 23 February in Lincolnshire, and another on 25 February in Cornwall. Both of these birds will take advantage of the good weather conditions and could well be back at their breeding sites in the next day or two.

Osprey by Derek Belsey

Swallow numbers have been increasing on the Spanish side of the Straits of Gibraltar during the last week but the birds don’t  seem to be pushing much further north from there, so it is a little more surprising to receive the first report of a Swallow in the UK. One was reported flying north over the dunes at Ainsdale, and also at Birkdale, Lancashire at 2.00pm on 28 February. With high pressure, and the resultant light northerly winds forecast from the UK all the way south to North Africa on Saturday, we could see a few more early migrants pushing north.

Pressure chart by the Met Office

The BTO satellite tagged cuckoos have already begun their move north. Chance, tagged on the Shores of Loch Katrine in May 2012 has almost completed the first leg of his journey to West Africa, which will be the staging area for his pre-Saharan crossing. David, tagged in Ceredigion, Wales, also in May 2012 is not far behind him, resting up in Cameroon before he pushes further west. Look at their locations here.

We are also following the migration, or not, of a group of White Storks that no longer migrate to Africa for the winter but choose to stay around landfill sites in Portugal instead. They may, however, leave these to breed elsewhere – look here for more information and to keep an eye on them. 

There is already evidence that some of our winter visitors have begun to leave, with the BirdTrack reporting rates for Bewick’s Swan, Redwing and Fieldfare all showing declines. It’ll be all change over the coming weeks, so keep an eye to the sky and remember you can now log all your recent sightings straight from your smart phone via the BirdTrack Apps.

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