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Seasonal Arrivals

An Article by Mike Stentiford, MBE

“There are scores of good thing to say about this time of year, not least the understanding that spring and early summer officially begin on April 1st



Rather romantically, it’s also traditionally the time when the first cuckoo is supposedly heard under ‘a brilliant blue sky dotted with clouds’ – a typical spring day as a poet might say! Unfortunately, although we generally say hello to the cuckoo each year towards the middle of April, the species is nowhere near as common as it once was. Despite the current climatic changes, birds nevertheless still attempt to stick to the rule books although many of them realise that they now need to fast-forward in line with rising temperatures. Nowhere is this more vocally tangible than in mature gardens or woodlands where birds are already beginning to fine tune their individual melodies, Before the choruses reach their crescendo in May however, there’s much to keep the birdwatcher enthused and intrigued over the coming weeks. In fact I always call it the ‘welcome mat’ time of year when the first full flurry of summer migrants begin to filter through the Island then on to the south and east coast of Britain.

The very first of thee early arrivals is a truly handsome, upright, sharp-suited grey and apricot-coloured bird – the Wheatear.

Already thousands of them are moving through Britain and the Channel Islands having freshly flown in from their wintering territories in Tropical Africa. Travelling in tandem with will be another species regarded as being one of the first to cross the springtime migration lie – the Sand martin. These birds will be heading back to their traditional cliffs, sand and gravel pits where, with luck and a benevolent summer, they will do their utmost to raise a duo of families.

Following close on their tails will be Swallows, a much loved and familiar species that has been synonymous with British Summer time since, well, since BST began in fact! Providing your barn, garage or garden shed still retain a hospitable point of entry, each pair will waste little time in getting down to the serious business of raising a family. April, therefore, can best be described as the month of preparation, not only for all those familiar garden birds we’ve been looking after throughout the winter, but especially for those newly arrived that need to take full advantage of what, for them, is a hugely important yet comparatively short breeding season.

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