until last year, the only way to get involved in bird migration
studies was to go to the coast or to train as a bird ringer. Now,
anyone can contribute to our understanding of bird migration, just
by reporting the birds in the local neighbourhood.
Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is appealing to birdwatchers in the
UK to do more for birds by taking part in Migration Watch this spring.
Migration Watch is a web-based survey to chart the arrival of birds
returning from Africa. What Migration Watch hopes to do is to record
the arrival of the first migrants, track their flow through the
country and see how quickly sites 'fill-up'. Migrant birds face
many threats on their long flights from Africa and if, as predicted,
climate change leads to more extreme and windy spring weather they
could find life even more difficult. Migration Watch will help the
BTO to understand the effects of weather patterns upon important
species such as Cuckoo and Spotted Flycatcher on the amber and red
lists of conservation concern, respectively.
of people look forward to the arrival of birds like Swallows and
Cuckoos (left) each spring and we encourage them to report their
sightings on our website. Taking part in Migration Watch is easy,
its just a case of visiting the website (www.bto.org/migwatch),
registering as a recorder and then recording your sightings using
the specially designed webpages.
The best way
to take part in Migration Watch is to choose a walk that you do
on a regular basis - on the way to work or while walking the dog,
for instance - and to make a note of the birds you see or hear each
time. You could even record the birds you see from your garden for
this survey. Migration Watch is not just about the first birds you
see, so by regularly recording from a site we can build up a picture
of the pattern of arrival and flow through the site. We hope that
volunteers will keep watching until all of the summer migrants have
was piloted in 2002 and, thanks to the support of 2,500 keen birdwatchers,
there are already exciting findings to view on the website. The
animated maps showing the locations of migrants week-by-week are
really good! 2002 was a strange year; many people noticed how late
birds such as House Martins were. Sand storms in Morocco and heavy
rain over much of Spain and Portugal held up many migrants. We were
starting to think that there had been huge mortality when suddenly
birds flooded in during late April.
Watch website opens on 16 February, although only the luckiest of
birdwatchers will have anything to report that early. Once open,
there will be daily bulletins of new arrivals, based on the information
received in the previous 24 hours. To take part in Migration Watch,
visit the website at www.bto.org/migwatch
or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
for further details.
has been generously funded by the Swallow Appeal and Northumbrian
Water Ltd and promoted by Bird Watching magazine.
Migration Watch Organiser