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Spring bird migration highlights - 28 April

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 15:40 UK time, Thursday, 28 April 2011

The wind's finally moved out of the south and into the north/north-east so it's been a much quieter week for migration.

But there's exciting things to come. During the next day or two we can expect the mass arrival of swifts, according to the BTO's Paul Stancliffe. Their arrival is surely one of the highlights of spring migration. As he says on his blog: "It seems that all of the UK's swifts arrive on the same day, or two." The only thing that might stop them, he thinks, "is if the northerly winds become too strong." Let's hope for a calm one then.

As if to confirm his prediction, we've just had news that five swifts were seen moments ago round the corner from the Springwatch office. We've had sightings on the blog too: Juli Okayama saw her two swifts of the year patrolling the sky in High Barnet, North London on 23 April; while paulatunny in Tunstall, East Yorkshire reported swifts there on 25 April.

Back to last week. The coastal watchpoints and observatories experienced some 'falls' (birds landing after migration). On Portland in Dorset (where we filmed the Springwatch Easter Special) 500 wheatears were seen and, today, 200 willow warblers. The first quails have also arrived.

There were also plenty of those exotic overshooting migrants around last week. Several red-rumped swallows and subalpine warblers graced our shores. There was a black kite in Kent the week before last and more arrived this week (some good news about red kite numbers in the UK today). A collared pratinole (what a spectacularly well named bird) was spotted at Spurn near Hull and then in Lincolnshire.

Elsewhere a cattle egret turned up in Dorset and a tawny pipit in Lincolnshire.

If you see any swifts or indeed any interesting wildlife this weekend we'd love to hear. We had some great sightings on the last post.

Update 3 May: Paul's just been in touch to say he underestimated the strength of the winds so the mass arrival of the swifts has been held up. He predicts it should happen over the next day or two so keep your eyes peeled.



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