Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Spring migration

April is when the arrival of summer migrants to these islands really gets into full swing, making it (and May) probably the two best birding months of the year. You know what's coming, pretty much (although there are always unexpected vagrants and rarities to spice things up further), you just don't know exactly when, or in what numbers. Every time you pick up you binoculars and step outside the front door, you're in for a surprise or two.

Although March certainly wasn't exceptionally cold, migration seemed to get off to a slow start. Sand Martins and Wheatears trickled in locally, and I've not seen a Little Ringed Plover yet.

But what I enjoy most about this time of year, and it's something that I talked about in that recent Daily Telegraph interview, and that crops up in my book A Sky Full Of Birds, is the way that certain species arrive en masse.

Yesterday, for example, the birding news services were pumping out constant updates about sightings of Little Gulls. These elegant, neat little seabirds, a world away from the popular image of the sandwich-stealing seagull, were crossing the country on their way back north, and it seemed that every reservoir or gravel pit had a few dropping in to refuel.

Chiffchaffs, similarly, suddenly seemed to appear a couple of weeks back. One minute there was no sign of them, even though small numbers now winter here, and the next they were in every tree, with their insistent, two-note calls.

And tomorrow? Well, it's getting near Redstart time, and also around the date I usually hear my first Cuckoo. I'll be in West Wales later in the week, at the wonderful Cors Dyfi and Ynys Hir reserves, so they ought to provide plenty of opportunities to look and listen for both.

1 comment:

Poetry Pleases! said...

Dear Matt

My wife put the nuts out for the local birds about a week ago but thanks to the resident grey squirrel, so far they have hardly had a look-in. I recently tried to buy a copy of your 'Making The Most Of The Light' but Helena said that unfortunately she had none left.

Best wishes from Simon R. Gladdish