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World Migratory Bird Day

12-13 May

With spring well under way, millions of birds across the UK will have arrived on their breeding grounds, ending for some, huge journeys from their wintering areas thousands of kilometres away. This migration will be celebrated by the second ever World Migratory Bird Day on 12-13 May. Organised by the African Eurasian Waterbirds Agreement (AEWA) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), World Bird Migration Day will highlight the amazing phenomenon of bird migration across the planet and the huge challenge that these birds will have faced.

All around the world vast numbers of birds will be arriving at their breeding sites. Some will have travelled huge distances and crossed several countries to get there, and their safe arrival will be celebrated across the world on 12-13 May. Here in the UK, for many, the sight of a Swallow or the sound of a Cuckoo will be the first hint of this. For the Swallow, this is the end of an 11,000 km journey, that will have seen it cross the rainforests of equatorial Africa, fly over the vast expanse of the Sahara desert, cross the Mediterranean, and then fly the entire length of France before crossing the English Channel, and arriving at the very same place that it set off from five months earlier. What's more it's a journey that it will undertake every year throughout its life.

Not all migrants travel such huge distances, but this doesn't mean that they are any less amazing. Britain's smallest bird the Goldcrest weighs in at 6g and is one of the lightest birds in the world to make a regular sea crossing. Birds that escaped the northern winter will have now made the return journey; in the case of the Goldcrest this will have been an overnight journey across the North Sea to Norway and the Baltic, on which it will have lost a third of its body weight.As these birds make their journeys, an army of volunteers will be tracking their movements. In the UK, bird observatories around our coastline will be trapping newly arrived migrants and checking them for metal rings that carry a unique number, and putting rings on birds that don't already have them, so that these individuals can be identified in the future and add to our understanding of bird migration. For many years, bird ringing in this country has been organised by The British Trust for Ornithology. Many millions of birds have been ringed here by licensed ringers, the information collected forming the basis of our knowledge of migrant birds. Anyone finding a ringed bird can report it by visiting, http://www.ring.ac, or by writing to the Ringing Unit, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU, or by telephone, 01842 750050.

You don't have to be a licensed ringer to help chart the movements of the UK's birds, by logging onto http://www.birdtrack.net and submitting your observations, you will have helped the BTO track the arrival of our summer migrants.

For more fascinating information on our migrant birds, the BTO book 'Time to Fly' is a must, available from the BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU, or telephone 01842 750050. It costs £12.50 plus p&p and is full of the most up-to-date information, with over 90 maps that illustrate the migratory journeys of birds as diverse as Manx Shearwaters and Chaffinches, House Martins and Cuckoos.

NB World Migratory Bird Day World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is a global initiative devoted to celebrating migratory birds and for promoting their conservation worldwide. This year WMBD will take place on the weekend of 12-13 May and its central theme will be 'Migratory birds in a changing climate'. World Migratory Bird Day is being organised by the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (UNEP/AEWA) together with the Convention on Migratory Species (UNEP/CMS) - two United Nations (UNEP) administered environmental treaties dedicated to the conservation of migratory animals. This year both BirdLife International and Wetlands International - two global NGOs dedicated to the protection of the world's birds and wetlands have joined as partners of the WMBD campaign. For more information on World Migratory Bird Day visit, http://www.worldmigratorybirdday.org

4th July 2014