The Spring migration in all its glory

The Spring migration in all its glory


Posted 2nd Mar 2018


As winter comes to an end, spring migration will see a surge of birds looking to make the most of the summer

For wildlife fans, migration time is THE time. The great annual tide of wildlife washes across the country as a great mass of movement of life in general and especially birds. As the long cold winter comes to an end and the warmth of spring soaks into the countryside, everyone starts to head north and makes the most of the opportunities the summer offers.

Birds which have spent the winter with us, the massed ranks of waders and wildfowl on our reservoirs and estuaries, will have the Arctic in their sights, as do many birds which have wintered further south, all now passing through in their brightest breeding colours. Meanwhile, our own countryside will rapidly fill up with returning warblers and wheatears, swallows and martins, redstarts and flycatchers, cuckoos and swifts and yellow wagtails and turtle doves - the list is endless.

And everyone will have a single thought on their mind - the need to breed. The air will be full of song, courtship displays, bright colours and the promise of new life. What better time is there?

How to do it

For the real 'rush', head to one of the major migration hotspots around our coast. Be prepared for an early start, as sometimes, the first few hours of the day will be the busiest. And bring your sandwiches - you won't want to miss a moment of action by having to look for lunch.

If you can't get to the special places listed below...The migrants are coming, whether you make it to the coast or not. In March, listen for the first chiffchaff plink-plonking his jaunty song; watch for the first swallow and house martin of the summer over head during April; and the first days of May should see the return of that great aerial won.

Special spots

Jutting out into the North Sea at the mouth of the Humber estuary, like a drip of wax hanging off the end of Yorkshire, Spurn Head is amongst the best migration hot spot.

Devon, Dawlish Inner Warren 

Dorset, Brownsea Island 

Essex, The Naze and Gunners Park 

Isles of Scilly 

Lincolnshire, Gibraltar Point 

Norfolk, Cley Marshes 

Northumberland, East Chevington 

Sussex, Rye Harbour

Yorkshire, Flamborough Cliffs 

Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of © Jim Higham





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