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Spring bird migration highlights - 8 April

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 11:35 UK time, Friday, 8 April 2011

The stunning spring weather across most of the UK in the last few days has brought with it a stunning array of Mediterranean overshoots. And the weekend's going to be every bit as interesting...

black stork copyright Neil Calbrade/BTO

Black stork © Neil Calbrade/BTO

This week the BTO's Paul Stancliffe has been inundated with reports:

"Reading this list you would think that we are in May," says Paul. "It is incredibly early for this number and range of overshoots to be seen in the UK, and it's not over yet. This weekend promises to be a very busy one for anyone interested in migration and the arrival of our summer migrants."

It's all to do with the high pressure we have at the moment. It extends all the way down to central Spain where it meets another high-pressure that in turn extends southwards into the Sahara. "This will be great for any birds migrating north as they experience light southerly winds," says Paul.

"On Saturday, the wind in the UK will be from the south-east and could well drift any migrants from continental Europe into the UK. All this means that this weekend has the potential to be the biggest of the spring."

Yet this past week hasn't just been about the glamourous overshoots. Common migrants have also been making use of this weather, with many turning up in numbers a week or two earlier than they usually would.

"Thursday was a redstart day with birds arriving at lots of locations, in land as well as on the coast," says Paul. "Common swift has been seen on Orkney and the Outer Hebrides, two to three weeks early, and there have been around half-a-dozen cuckoos already this week. I am sure there will be more this weekend." (This morning Dorset Wildlife Trust tweeted about two cuckoo sightings and on this blog a couple of days ago Child of Herne reported hearing one in Barton le Cley, Bedfordshire.)

"Whitethroats have arrived in number, at least a week early and there has already been a large movement of swallows (yesterday): 250 arrived in one hour at Hengistbury Head, Dorset."

It's all happening out there at the moment then and it looks like the action's going to continue. If you're planning to get out there and enjoy it, let us know here what you see. Even better, if you've got a camera to hand take a snap and share it on the Springwatch photo group.

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