Arrivals, departures and a hectic start to the breeding season!
After a hectic start to the spring and a warm April, we head into May. Most of the migrants have arrived or departed by now although in the last weeks of April we still had a few reports of waxwings making their way back north, departing our shores bound for their breeding grounds in Scandinavia. Most of the migrants heading to the UK should have arrived by now, including one of the most iconic birds of spring, the cuckoo.
Having traveled all the way from Africa, the cuckoo signals it’s arrival in the UK by making its distinctive call in suitable habitats. The cuckoo (http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/c/cuckoo/index.aspx) has been in decline in recent times and is now red-listed making hearing the distinctive call is a much rarer occurrence these days. If you are lucky enough to hear a cuckoo or even see one, we would love you to report it via the Birdtrack website. (www.birdtrack.net )
Another migrant bird that we are concerned about is the swift. This unique species spends most of its life high above our heads and returns to the UK in early May. The swift is a true urban bird and nests alongside humans, making use of the gaps in the roof fittings. Unfortunately, due to changes in modern house building and renovation techniques, swifts do not always have the opportunity to access the nooks and crannies they need to raise a family. That is why here at the RSPB we are asking everyone to help us help swifts by telling us if you know of a swift nest site. You can read about this project here (http://www.rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/surveys/swifts/index.aspx ) and submit your sightings of nests and screaming parties of swifts.
The level of bird song is reaching its peak as the returning migrants add their voices to the chorus. This signifies that nesting is either underway or starting in the near future. This is a great time to get out and about into woodlands. Listen for the variety of songs and maybe catch a glimpse of a chiffchaff or willow warbler in the canopy before the leaves of broad leaf trees are at their fullest. In gardens, the familiar songsters like robins, wrens and blackbirds may well have a nest near you, we have already seen fully fledged juvenile robins out and about on their own so many birds wasted no time and got started very early this spring. If you are looking to visit somewhere new, RSPB reserves might be just up your street, have a look here for your nearest one. http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/area/