Saturday, 23 April 2016

More spring arrivals

Long-distance migrants have been arriving in force over the last week or so - I managed to catch up with ten of my favourites last weekend and this, all common summer visitors to British breeding grounds. Common maybe - but uncommonly difficult journeys they undertake to come back to these shores. A good excuse to flick through the old BTO Migration Atlas to marvel at the journeys they make, read the accounts of ringing recoveries and be reminded of the perils they face along the way.
Male Redstart, Suckthumb Quarry, Portland, 17th April. A trans-Saharan migrant, the Redstart heads through the Iberian peninsula before arriving in Britain, having wintered south of the Sahara.
Whinchat, Suckthumb Quarry, Portland, 17th April. Another long-distance migrant wintering in tropical Africa. Spring males are stunners!
Lesser Whitethroat, Swineham, 23rd April - quite a rare visitor to the patch. British Lesserthroats head to northern Italy for a stopover on migration across the Med to winter in east Africa - an unusual route for one of 'our' warblers.
Common Whitethroat, Suckthumb Quarry, Portland 17th April. They spend winter in the Sahel region of Africa.
Reed Warbler, Wareham, 23rd April. A trans-Saharan migrant, our Reed Warblers are thought to winter in west Africa, reaching us in spring via a westerly route through North Africa and Iberia.
Sedge Warbler, Swineham, 23rd April. Another trans-Saharan migrant, more ringed British Sedge Warblers have been recovered from Senegal than any other country.
Willow Warbler, Portland Castle, 17th April. Many British birds winter in the Gulf of Guinea.
Yellow Wagtail, Suckthumb Quarry. British birds winter in Senegal and the Gambia, following the west African coast and passing through Spain en route to Britain in spring.
Male Blackcap, Portland Castle, 17th April. British breeders spend winter in southern Iberia and northwest Africa. Blackcaps wintering in Britain are, however, thought to be continental breeders.
House Martin, Lodmoor, 17th April. Over a million House Martins have been ringed in Britain but only a couple of dozen of these have been recovered south of the Sahara. Knowledge of their wintering grounds is therefore limited.
Whinchat, Suckthumb Quarry. A very dapper beast.

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