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UK Migrants arrive in a shiver

Early birds get the? snow

The first Swallows of the spring have been recorded in Britain, in North Yorkshire on 12 March, followed by another on the Isle of Wight on 14 March.

Over the last 10 days we have seen the first signs of migrant birds arriving from their wintering grounds in Africa. In addition to the two Swallows, BirdTrack has recorded the following migrants:

Wheatear – 1 March in Kent
Little Ringed Plover – 5 March in Norfolk and 6 March in the West Midlands
Sand Martin – 6 March in East Riding of Yorkshire and 14 March in Cornwall
Garganey – 10 March in KentSeveral migrant species have also been recorded during the winter months, the most unusual being a Lesser Whitethroat in Lancashire (9 January), Common Whitethroat in Suffolk (1 January) and Ring Ouzels in Hampshire (11 February) and Kent (25 February to 12 March) and a Garganey in Greater London (7 January). All these species normally winter in Africa!

The weather has not been favourable for migration with cold northerly winds across much of Northern Europe. Even in Spain and Portugal, the first European landfall for many of our migrants, the weather has been cold and migration slow at traditional migration hotspots like Gibraltar.

The ideal weather conditions for migration is high pressure over North Africa and Southern Europe, with light winds. The clear skies enable migrants to use the stars to migrate.

Birdwatchers can contribute to our understanding of the timing of arrival of migrants by contributing to BirdTrack http://www.birdtrack.net the online bird recording project. Records of all species, but particularly migrants are welcome.

4th July 2014