Spring bird migration highlights - 24 May: only house martins to go
It has been a much quieter week this week, reports the BTO's Paul Stancliffe. Migration has been suppressed by the wind being in the west all week and times being pretty strong. But most of our migrants are now here, with the exception of house martin.
House martin © John Harding/BTO
"After the early rush of birds in April the main thrust of house martins arriving has been slow and many colonies still only have low numbers present," he says. "However, the species can often have a protracted migration with some birds not turning up at colonies until mid to late June and even into early July. So there is still time."
The BTO has also reported this week that house martins are finding nest building difficult in some parts of the country. The dry conditions, especially in the east and south-east, means they can't get the mud they need to build them. You can help by providing a mud-filled puddle in your garden and also by taking part on the BTO's house martin survey. Sadly the number of participants has more than halved since 2009 so you really could make a difference.
Back to migration news: "It really has been a spring for southern overshoots," says Paul, "and even though the wind has been from the west these Mediterranean migrants have still been seen, with bee-eaters in Kent and Dorset, short-toed larks at several sites, At least five hoopoes [a few of our intrepid Flickr photographers have managed to get pictures of these beauties] and red-rumped swallows reported from 15 sites across the country."
Lucky LeeDingain, on last week's migration news post, reports spotting one of these swallows at Dungeness this year.
"Interestingly, this is the first week of the spring that there have been no records of waxwings," says Paul. "The influx is well and truly over." We certainly enjoyed the influx and so did you judging by the amount of sightings on our waxwing blog post.
Quails are returning © Abbie Marland/BTO
"We are now left with the late returning migrants appearing," says Paul. "Quails have been reported from lots of sites around the country with a bias to the southern half, and more spotted flycatchers have arrived." Again on last week's post, 09angie123 comments on the fact that they've had a pair of spotted flycatchers nesting in their garden for three years in a row. How nice!
Whitethroats are everywhere © Dawn Balmer/BTO
So what should we look out for this week? Paul says now's the time to get out and about locally and enjoy our summer visitors that have set up their breeding territories and are getting on with the serious business of rearing young. Whitethroats, garden warblers and blackcaps seem to be everywhere, he says.
And what of next week? "The winds are forecast to drop and turn more south-easterly in the middle of the week. At this time of the year these winds can often bring very rare birds to the UK. I would very much like a white-throated needletail, an incredible swift from the far-east."
As always, we'd love to hear which migrants you've been seeing. Any rare ones? Any regular visitors? Any more or less than usual where you are? What about those house martins?