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Thousands say goodbye

…35 countries bid farewell to migratory birds.

Despite stormy weather across Europe over the past weekend, more than 63,000 adults and children from 35 countries set out to bid farewell to migratory birds, as many flew south for the non-breeding season. It was all part of EuroBirdwatch, the annual event organised by BirdLife International and its national Partners across the continent. This year BirdLife used EuroBirdwatch to highlight Born to Travel, the BirdLife Flyways Campaign, which aims to save migratory birds and their habitats. BirdLife Partners from Portugal to Turkey and from Malta to Norway together organised more than 1,700 different events, from birdwatching excursions to bird ringing demonstrations. Central to these events was the enjoyment, observation and counting of birds. The results were collected and will be analysed by Vogelbescherming Nederland (BirdLife in the Netherlands).

A total number of 2,640,944 birds were counted during the past weekend. Russia recorded most sightings in the whole of Europe (nearly 900,000) followed by Hungary (495,453). Russia also held most events (837) and Spain attracted most visitors in Europe (30,000). Each country gave their top three observed birds. The most frequent number one on those lists was European Starling Sturnus Vulgaris; second and third positions went out to Mallard Anas platyrhynchos and Common Coot Fulica atra.Hard winds and rains teased most of the European continent on Saturday. As a result most BirdLife Partners reported that there were very few birds migrating compared to previous years. Migratory birds tend to stay put until the weather conditions are favorable. Only then they continue on their challenging journeys southwards. But for bird watchers there were perks to those strong winds. Seabirds that are usually only spotted far out at sea were blown towards the coast. Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus (Critically Endangered), Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea and Leach´s Storm-petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa provided welcome treats for EuroBirdwatch participants.

“It is a delight to many Europeans to spot rarities such as Balearic Shearwater near their coast, as well as more familiar migrants such as Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica inland,” said Ania Sharwood Smith, Coordinator of the Born to Travel Campaign. “Unfortunately it is those inspiring bird watching moments that are becoming increasingly rare. We can, and need to, save migratory birds and their habitats, before we lose the miracle of migration altogether.”

This news is brought to you by Born to Travel - BirdLife's Flyways Campaign.

4th July 2014