21/03/2002
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Migration Watch - can you help fill the gaps?

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Migration Watch, the new BTO/BirdWatch Ireland Internet project to track the arrival and flow of summer migrants, has been up and running since the 1st March. Already a large number of birdwatchers across the country are taking part, but we still need your help. The Coverage Map shows the distribution of sites across Britain and Ireland. The green dots represent 10km squares that have been registered and visited and the red dots are 10km that are yet to be visited. As you might expect, we have good coverage in most parts of England (reflects the population), but rather scant coverage in parts of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. There are also big gaps in inland Kent and around the Fens. Even some top birding sites such as Spurn are not being covered! If you regularly visit an area that lacks a red or green dot then we would very much welcome your records. Even if there is already a dot in your area, please send in your records as a 10km square is large and it is unlikely that anyone else is submitting records from your local patch.

Just to illustrate the kind of information we are gathering, the map for Chiffchaff for the last seven days is shown (up to Wednesday 20th March). The red dots show records submitted in the last two days and the orange dots are for the previous five days. Clearly there has been a lot of new records submitted in the last two days suggesting an arrival of spring migrants. Of course, the picture for Chiffchaff (and for Blackcap) is complicated by over-wintering birds!

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Migration Watch isn't just interested in early arrivals, we want to be able to show when the bulk of the migrants have arrived, so it is important to submit records throughout the spring and not just report the first of each species you see. In a couple of weeks time we will have animated maps showing the pattern of arrival for a wide range of common migrants.

Taking part in Migration Watch is easy and fun. Simply visit the website www.bto.org/migwatch and register as a Migration Watch observer today.

Written by: Dawn Balmer, Migration Watch Organiser, BTO