Migration Watch 2003: A Summary So Far


If you haven't already submitted any sightings to Migration Watch this year, then now is a good time to start! Many migrants are still yet to arrive in large numbers, and you can now check out how your first sightings compare to those from 2002, and how they compare to the region as a whole.


With the migration season well under way, now is a good time to look at some of the April highlights.


Black Tern (Phillip Tomkinson) Hobby (Simon Mackie)



Despite Britain and Ireland being bathed in sunshine, the start of April saw continued poor weather over southern Europe, which held up the bulk of our returning migrants. Early individuals were still arriving, though in small numbers. There were two very early Spotted Flycatchers on 29 and 30 March, but the next arrival was not seen until 12 April. Early Nightingales were also seen at several sites after the first in Cambridgeshire on 27 March, with the main arrival also being slightly early. The most exceptional arrival was a reported Honey Buzzard in Flintshire on 8 April!

Other firsts in April were a Wood Sandpiper in West Sussex on the 18th, a Turtle Dove on the 5th in neighbouring East Sussex and a Hobby on the same day in Kent. The main arrival of Hobbies was not seen until much later in the month, being later than last year. This arrival of Hobbies closely followed the arrival en masse of one of their main prey species, the Swift, a few days earlier. This rapid arrival was due to strong southerly winds after a depression tracked over Spain in the third week of April, pushing the poor weather eastwards and creating ideal conditions for migration. Also caught up in this air flow were at least 10 Alpine Swifts (as far north as Scarborough) and possibly a record spring number of 25 Red-rumped Swallow sightings, including four together at Gibraltar Point (Lincolnshire). Swallows also arrived in good numbers, which was encouraging after a slow start to their season, and are now back to a level similar to that in 2002.

One of the most impressive arrivals of April was the large numbers of terns that appeared at many sites mid-month. Common Terns arrived slightly earlier than last year, with Arctic Terns coming a week early and Black Terns a whole month early! Arriving in Kent from the 8th, Black Terns had reached East Yorkshire by the 15th and Merseyside two days later. The best count was of eight in Cambridgeshire.

To see some of the results from 2003, check out these links:

Watch the (late) return of Swallows at: http://blx1.bto.org/smw-dailyresults/results/anim-322-03.html

See where Black Terns have been seen at: http://blx1.bto.org/smw-dailyresults/results/s258-20-03.html

Don't forget, if you've forgotten your password, you can have a reminder emailed to you by using the link http://blx1.bto.org/migwatch/login/password-reminder.jsp , or if you've forgotten your user ID or have any other problems using the website please email websupport@bto.org who will be pleased to help you.

So, why not help us build up this valuable database by submitting some records through this season!

Written by: Mark Grantham, On behalf of the Migration Watch Team