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Slow start for Swallows

Migration News from the British Trust for Ornithology

Despite the glorious weather in Britain and Ireland over the last couple of week, cool and damp weather further south in Europe is hampering migration. According to the BTO`s Migration Watch, the breeding season for Swallows has already been shortened by two weeks.Birdwatchers throughout Britain and Ireland are reporting their sightings of spring migrants to the Migration Watch website and it appears that Swallows are arriving in much smaller numbers this spring, compared to the same time last year. It may be that poor weather further south is slowing up their journey and that they will arrive with a rush when the weather improves ? let`s hope so. Once Swallows arrive they will be busy setting up territory ready to start nesting. You can record the nesting activity of your Swallows in a special survey organised by Migration Watch. Find out more about Swallows by looking at the Focus on Swallow page on the website http://www.bto.org/migwatch/text/species/swallo.htmChiffchaffs, in contrast, are arriving thick and fast and numbers are well up on this time last year. Chiffchaffs took advantage of the warm weather in early March and arrived early and in good numbers ? they can be heard singing from most bushes! The numbers of Chiffchaff in Britain and Ireland have been increasing markedly over the last few years so the widespread distribution and abundance this spring may reflect a buoyant population. Chiffchaffs generally winter in southern Europe or North Africa so don`t migrate the huge distances that Swallows do. To find out more about Chiffchaffs have a look at the Focus on Chiffchaff page on the Migration Watch website http://www.bto.org/migwatch/text/species/chiff.htmWho 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.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://ww.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