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Migration News from the British Trust for Ornithology

Martins over meres

Now is the time to look out for Sand Martins, hawking for insects over meres, reservoirs and lakes. The first wave of Sand Martins has arrived in southern Britain and early pioneering birds have now reached Scotland and Ireland.Sand Martins are one of the earliest migrant birds to arrive back in their summer quarters, having spent the winter months in Africa. Most Sand Martins from Britain and Ireland winter in West Africa and no further south than the Sahel zone. Environmental conditions in Africa can have a huge influence on the numbers of Sand Martins that survive the winter; a severe drought in 1968-69 dramatically reduced the population by almost half in some places. Providing that this has not been a bad winter, we expect that half a million Sand Martins will arrive in Britain and Ireland within the next four weeks.Man-made habitats such as sand pits and gravel workings are the preferred nesting habitats, although natural sites along sandy riverbanks are still used. Sand Martins excavate holes in the sand and dig out a burrow to form a nesting chamber in which to lay their eggs. Aggregates companies take great care to ensure that there is space within their sites for these international migrants.International arrivals

During the last few days Chiffchaffs have arrived in good numbers and the animated maps on the website http://blx1.bto.org/smw-dailyresults/results/anim-422-03.html clearly show waves of Chiffchaffs moving north and westwards. Two Ospreys have also been seen on their migration to breeding grounds in Scotland; one in the East Riding of Yorkshire on 15 March and another in Brighton & Hove on 17 March. The first Ring Ouzels of the year were spotted at Landguard, Suffolk on 11 March, Herefordshire on 13 March and Durham and Worcestershire on 17 March.Note ? Chiffchaff maps available as JPEGs, one map for each week. Contact dawn.balmer@bto.org for maps.Who can help?

Anyone can get involved. Send in records of the first birds you see ? House Martins in your town or Swallows in your village. Take a regular walk and watch the seasons change, as first Chiffchaffs, then Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Cuckoo and Spotted Flycatcher add their voices to the summer chorus. Note when your first Swallow arrives, then keep records of when the nest is built, the eggs are laid, young start to be fed etc. And there is a huge amount of information to read too.Dawn Balmer, of the BTO, who organises Migration Watch is keen to recruit volunteers: Last year`s pilot of Migration Watch was really exciting, as we waited for the first birds to arrive. Three thousand birdwatchers sent in their records and we got a tantalising glimpse of how birds move into and through the country. With lots of new volunteers this year we hope to fill in some of the gaps in our coverage. She said.Funding

Funding for Migration Watch has come from BTO members and supporters and from Northumbrian Water Limited. For further information on work being done by Northumbrian Water Limited on conservation and environment, visit http://www.nwl.co.uk/environment or telephone 0870 6084820.Like migrant birds, Northumbrian Water Limited has both a national and global dimension. The company`s support for Migration Watch celebrates links between its operational sites in Essex and Suffolk in the south and Northumbria in the north, as well as overseas. It has even been shown that Swallows ringed at one of its sewage works in Northumbria spend the winter in sites served by its South African sister company. It is a small world!For further information please contact:
Dawn Balmer 01842 750050, E-mail: dawn.balmer@bto.org during office hours or mobile 07968 600354 or Graham Appleton 01842 750050 or E-mail: graham.appleton@bto.org during office hours. Or for information about Migration Watch in the Republic of Ireland contact: Oran O`Sullivan, BirdWatch Ireland, 8 Longford Place, Monkstone, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Tel: +353 12804322 E-mail: info@birdwatchireland.org

4th July 2014