Paul Stancliffe from the British Trust for Ornithology kicks off this year's Springwatch Migration Diary by saying goodbye to some our summer visitors.
With the meteorological summer drawing to a close it is rather fitting that autumn bird migration is well under way. Rather depressingly, here at the British Trust for Ornithology we see the first signs of autumn migration just as summer starts, with the departure of the first of our satellite tagged cuckoos; this year the first bird left the UK on 16 June.
The first cuckoo left the UK for Africa on 16th June. Credit: Edmund Fellows/BTO
This time, the long flight south appears to have been a tough one for our cuckoos. The spring here was largely cool, wet, and at times very windy, so they might not have been in the best of condition when they left the UK. At the Mediterranean stopover sites the conditions were pretty much the opposite of what they experienced here. Northern Italy, the main stopover site for the birds that take the central Mediterranean route, was in the grip of a severe drought and soaring...
This guest blog was written by Sarah West, and looks at the ever evolving world of citizen science. Sarah West is a researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York. She has been designing and running citizen science projects since 2008, and does research into the people involved in citizen science.
You may have heard the term ‘citizen science’ over the past couple of years. Basically this is where volunteers and scientists work together to answer scientific questions. Over the past decade or so, the number of citizen science projects has boomed, partly as a result of the increasing availability of new technologies, but it’s nothing new. In fact, as many Springwatch fans will be aware, so-called ‘amateur naturalists’ in the UK have been collecting data about the world about them for centuries, much of which gets used in scientific research. Records collected by naturalists about what species have been seen where, when and by whom, are really useful for looking at species distributions across the UK, how these are changing over time, migration patterns etc. Much of our knowledge about how species and habitats are responding to climate change, for...
Learn to distinguish between our birds of prey with this Springwatch guide.
Kestrels are most commonly seen hovering, in search of prey.
British birds of prey come in a range of different shapes, sizes and families, and telling them apart when all you have is a fleeting glimpse or a far-off silhoutette in the sky can be difficult. This Springwatch guide will look at the similarities and differences in flying raptors, to give you more chance of a sucessful identification when you're out enjoying nature.
Kestrel - Falco Tinnunculus
Kestrels can often be seen hovering over motorway verges.
Kestrels are one of our best known falcons. They are often seen hovering over motorway verges, looking for mice and voles in the long grass. They have long, pointed wings and a long tail. Males are smaller than females, as is common in raptors. Male kestrels have a greyish blue heads and tails and light...
Have your garden birds disappeared this summer? Well fear not, we'll tell you why.
At this time of year, things generally start to quiet down in the natural world. Call it one long sigh of relief, if you will. By mid-August, most birds have finished their breeding season and have fledgling chicks setting out on their own adventures.
You might think this would be the perfect time to sit...
Is the Sparrowhawk an awe-inspiring master of the skies, or an uninvited and unwelcome garden pest?
Imagine this. You’re enjoying a morning brew in your garden. The blue tits are calling to one another, the goldfinches are feeding on your Nyjer seed and the blackbird is staking his claim over the land with his fluid, musical song.
You’re breathing in the tranquillity, basking in the glory of...
Peter Hill from the Amhpibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC) talks about his work on a Sand Lizard reintroduction project in Surrey.
Recently I and a pair of friends surveyed a few sand lizard and smooth snake reintroduction sites in Surrey. On June 14th, following a cool, sun-less morning, the afternoon brought strong sun onto the Surrey bank pictured below. We happened to arrive just at the right time and witnessed some of the seasonal drama of the lives of the sand lizards unfolding at our feet. The following set of images portrays some of what was observed.
This bank is ideal...
Image credit: Iain Erskine
Part 1: Sea eagle sagas – In the beginning
I can see her now. I was hiking through a glen on Mull when two huge dark birds caught my eye over the far ridge. Two immature sea eagles were soaring along the ridge. Often with their legs down they looked like hang gliders drifting back and forth. One was bigger then the other. I'd stumbled across a young pair (at that time, it was the only pair)...
With more and more books about nature hitting our shelves, we asked Unsprung guest Rob MacFarlane to give us four of his classic nature reads. Our presenters, predictably have added his own.
Rob MacFarlane recommends
The Peregine, by JA Baker
The Living Mountain, by Nan Shephed
Waterlog, by Roger Deakin
Nature Cure, by Richard Mabey
Chris Packham recommends some American literature
A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold
Blood Meridian: The Border Trilogy, by Cormac McCarthy
Lost Man's River, by Peter Matthiessen
Killing Mister Watson, by Peter Matthiessen
A River Runs Through It, by Norman...
Save our species
Live mealworms provide an excellent source of food for small garden birds.
Hedgehogs need to travel through entire neighbourhoods if they are to survive.
In fact, they can roam several...
Thank you for all your comments on our blogs, but please remember that your sightings only count if they are logged on the Nature’s Calendar website.
We did it – or rather, you did. As of yesterday, we’ve received 20,980 sightings of our Big 5, which is a fantastic achievement. Thank you. The hawthorn blossom is finally out where I live, so I can now head off to our Springwatch base a happy man!
We’ll be rolling out the results of the survey throughout the series, starting with swallows next Monday 25th May.
Hawthorn in Bud