International Flight Arrivals

My first Swallow on the patch was on 13th April - in Blue Peter style this is one I painted earlier

As every schoolboy knows one Swallow doesn't make a summer. The Swedish schoolboy equivalent (we'll call him Lars) might say the same about one Starling. Equally the South African schoolboy (let's call him Eric Mortimore) might be sad to see the last of the winter visiting Swallows.

Whether a bird is a summer visitor, a passage migrant or a winter visitor depends on your location - as well as the time of year.  This is true on a small scale as well. There are a number of species which wouldn't normally be considered summer visitors to Britain but ARE summer birds on the patch.

I listen out for the return of the Dabchicks almost as keenly as the first Willow warbler. The pair's duet of winnying trills is a 'lovely lovely thing' (to quote Masterchef's very own John Torode). I hear them most mornings in late April and May, the remarkable thing is how infrequently I see them - spending most of their time in the swampy backwater of the lake.


Starling, Linnet, Pied Wagtail and Reed Bunting are also species that come under this category - summer visitors to the patch, though not conventionally thought of as 'birds of summer'.

Mid-April is, for me, the best time of the whole year. Other wildlife pursuits are put on hold - it's all about the summer migrants.  Every morning I'm up at dawn's crack (as if were), listening out for those new voices in mix of morning music.

The best of the dawns are magical, the first shafts of sunlight waking up the avian orchestra - new soloists joining in as the morning progresses.

Willow warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap numbers have built up very rapidly so now their voices have transformed the patch - giving it a sheen of eager brightness. Grasshopper warblers have added their 'reeling' contribution to the patch soundtrack.

And the Swallows are here too. They are spirits, dancing around the sky, doing their best to encapsulate the essence of spring.

Willow warbler, 4 on 4th April became 15 on the 8th - when there were also 27 singing Chiffchaffs
Reed Bunting - a summer visitor to the patch

 Dates when the first of the patch's summer migrant birds was seen/heard. These are the species that actually breed on the patch. There are a number of other species which I expect to see or hope to see House martin, Sand martin, Swift, Cuckoo, Whinchat etc
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  1. Really lovely painting of Swallows - you've quite the talent there! :) They have been gradually trickling in at the main farm where I monitor them - the very first Swallow arrived on the 4th, (followed by no 2 on the 5th, no 3 on the 8th..., eventually there should be about 40) the journey these and others make is astonishing - it's wonderful to see them again.

    1. Hi Jan, very kind thanks. So 20 pairs on the farm? That's a healthy Swallow population - whereabouts is it? I went to Redesmere on 1st April - there were a lot of hirundine, mostly sand martins, but several Swallows and a couple of House Martins. I usually went there when I lived in Cheshire to get my first martins of the year

    2. Yes around 18-20 pairs - for the last couple of years I've ringed over 100 chicks each season (and several nests are silly high so I don't do those)... you can imagine come Aug/Sept it's pretty busy there! (The farm is quite out in the sticks, close-ish to Knutsford.)

    3. Brilliant! Must be fascinating and rewarding doing that - have you had any your ringed Swallows 'controls'

    4. I've caught 'controls', but they haven't been from far away - ringed at other sites in Cheshire/Staffs. I've had many 'retraps' which have been adult birds I ringed at the same site in previous years so they are racking up some serious mileage and faithfully returning to the same farm year on year. I'd love to hear about birds from the site found [alive and well of course] in S. Africa but that hasn't happened yet.


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