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Migration picking up speed…

This years migrant birds are being recorded on the BTO/BirdWatch Ireland Migration Watch… Bird of the week 21 - 27 April - Whitethroat

This is the week to look out for Whitethroats. The jerky flight display and scratchy song of the Whitethroat are a characteristic sight and sound of scrub, young woodland and hedgerows. The Whitethroat has experienced dramatic crashes in its population in the past. These crashes are due to climate related changes in its African wintering grounds. In spring 1969, three-quarters of the Whitethroat population failed to reappear in the UK. After a low point in the population in 1974, numbers steadily increased before crashing again during the winter of 1984/85. Since then the population has stabilised. The catastrophe also affected other species that winter just south of the Sahara such as Sand Martin. Drought conditions in the Sahel can have a massive impact on the fortunes of migratory birds. You can help track the arrival of Whitethroats this spring by logging onto the BTO website www.bto.org/migwatch to record arrival dates.

For more information on Whitethroat see www.bto.org/migwatch and click on Focus on Species.THIS WEEK`S HIGHLIGHTS: Week 13 - 20 AprilAfter a slow start to April, migration finally picked up on April 13 with some decent falls of birds on the south coast. Portland Bill Bird Observatory witnessed a spectacular arrival of Willow Warblers on April 14 and 15, with over 1000 counted on each day, together with good numbers of Redstarts, Chiffchaffs, Wheatears and smaller numbers of Pied Flycatcher and Yellow Wagtail. By the end of the week migration had tailed off again.Two early records of Spotted Flycatcher have been submitted to Migration Watch, one in Surrey on April 14 and one at Portland Bill, Dorset on April 15. Typically, Spotted Flycatchers arrive at the end of April and into early May. Large numbers of terns were counted off Dungeness Bird Observatory on April 17 including over 900 Common Terns, over 500 Sandwich Terns, 40 Arctic Terns and 13 Little Terns. All these species are long-distance migrants wintering off the coast of Africa.

The weather forecast for the coming weekend looks excellent for the arrival of migrants, with high pressure over Europe and warm southerly winds in the UK.Migration Watch was launched on the 1st March and is designed to track the arrival and flow of summer migrants through the country using the latest Internet technology. Hundreds of birdwatchers logged on during the first week of Migration Watch to record their sightings of birds on their local patch. Birdwatchers are encouraged to log their sightings on the Migration Watch website. To register go to www.bto.org/migwatchWhat is involved?Migration Watch is easy; it will appeal to birdwatchers of all abilities. The project is web-based so anyone with access to the Internet can take part (but you don`t need a computer at home; contact UK Online (0800 771234) for information about your nearest centre with internet facilities). Daily, weekly or just casual records can be entered onto a specially designed web page. Interested volunteers can find out more by looking at the BTO website http://www.bto.org/migwatch or by sending an e-mail to migrationwatch@bto.org Select a site that you visit regularly from March to June and take a note of the birds you see or hear as often as you can. Choose your back garden, the local park where you walk the dog or even the route you walk to work. Every night the BTO`s Migration Watch computer will produce up-to-the-minute maps showing the arrival and spread of common migrants across the country. Birdwatchers will be able to see their own records reflected in the map the day after they submit them!Funding for Migration Watch has come from BTO members and supporters and from Northumbrian Water Limited.Like migrant birds, Northumbrian Water Limited has a global dimension. The company`s support for Migration Watch celebrates links to its operations in distant lands. It has been shown that Swallows ringed at Northumbrian Water Limited`s sites in the UK spend the winter at sewage sites belonging to its South African sister company. It is a small world!Bird photographs are available for use alongside articles which promote Migration Watch. Contact images@bto.orgFor further information please contact:
Dawn Balmer 01842 750050 or E-mail: dawn.balmer@bto.org during office hours
Graham Appleton 01842 750050 or E-mail: graham.appleton@bto.org during office hours
Chris Mead 01760 756466 or E-mail: chris.mead@zetnet.co.uk anytimeOr 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: bird@indigo.ie

4th July 2014