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Spring bird migration highlights - 1 April

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 16:21 UK time, Friday, 1 April 2011

Spring migration waits for no one but it does wait for the wind. The latest migration report from Paul Stancliffe at the BTO shows how all the comings and goings of spring are affected by the weather. (Read Monday's update here.)

This week, Paul reports, the weather has fallen into a pattern. "Conditions during the early part of the week were better for the arrival of migrants than in the middle part of the week," he says. "The strong west/south-westerlies put the brakes on for anything trying to make a move."

But he has good news for anyone still to see their first swallow of the year: "The winds are due to weaken in strength and turn more southerly this weekend, providing ideal conditions for further arrivals. If you haven't already seen your first swallow, this weekend should be a safe bet." (You can keep up with the latest swallow sightings on the BTO's website.)

By last week sand martins and wheatears had been spotted in north Scotland and both species have continued to arrive in force this week. (Sand martin sightings are here.) The favourable conditions earlier in the week enabled redstarts and sedge warblers to arrive across the south coast. And good news about two other African migrants: the first pied flycatcher of the season was spotted in Devon on 28 March, and the first reed warbler the day after in Dorset.

The spring chorus welcomed back two songsters this week. The blackcap (or, to give it its rather lovely nickname, the northern nightingale) was in full song in many parts of the country, bang on cue. Meanwhile in Wales, the first grasshopper warbler was heard on 29 March.

The exotic hoopoes continue to pop up in southern areas. Around a dozen were seen in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and southern Ireland. (If you don't know what the beautiful creatures look like have a look at Pete Vincent's lovely shot of one in the Springwatch photo group.) The only other overshooting migrant this week was a male serin in Dungeness, Kent.

On the departure front, large numbers of bramblings have been seen on the east coast and the starlings are still being seen heading out to sea in numbers. The winter thrushes - redwings and fieldfares - have been doing the same but in much smaller numbers. Most of them move during the hours of darkness. Flocks of brent geese are also on their way out.

What have your spring migration highlights been so far? Let us know by commenting below.



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