Are We Nearly There Yet?

There is no doubt that the arrival of the first Spring migrant passerines is really exciting.  Getting my first singing Chiffchaffs on Tuesday first in a and then b on the way to work did not dampen my enthusiasm for hearing them later in three other tetrads.  Just the general tweets today such as those of @commonbynature and @johnnykinnson about Sand Martins and Chiffchaffs respectively you can sense the excitement these tiny specks generate.

Though it is a leap of faith.  It shocked me when  I read this by Scott Weidensaul, but its true in this one particular moment a species is moving all of its genetic material from one side of the globe to another.  The purpose, to ensure there is enough food to generate more of this genetic material to then take it back to where there is more food later in the year. We can see it in real time as tired migrants land feed and suddenly start to sing.  Or you can follow some of the marked birds such as the Cuckoos the BTO have tagged and are purposefully working their way North through Africa.

‘Aye, but there’s the rub’, as the Gateman in Macbeth put it.  By moving everything across the globe you face innumerable but increasing risks.  We know there are less Cuckoos than when we were kids, and this includes the NextGen birders. In  ‘Say Good Bye to the Cuckoo‘ we can be reassured all European long distance migrants are at risk.  Crossing numerous geo-political boundaries there is a need for all birders to be a bit less insular and not just consider these migrants as our returning birds, but ones we share with other parts of the world.

Some of you will already have been captured by The Champions of the Flyway publicity for migration across the Eastern end of the Mediterranean.  Some of you will also be eagerly awaiting Dovestep 2 as @jonny09jonny yet again raises the profile of the plight of the Turtle Dove which may soon be lost as a breeding bird in the UK.

This was not the plan for this week’s blog, but the image on the front of Birdlife International’s latest Newsletter really describes in one image what trials migrant birds face.


We need to do more than just wring are hands and say things are bad.

Easy things at no cost.  Sign every petition you see that relate to migrant birds.  Write to your MP or if they are about to change write to them in June.  Or you Euro MP -they get paid to do something on your behalf.

Subscribe to Birdlife International’s Newsletter and be better informed about cross boundary issues.

Easy things at a little cost.  Join the RSPB even after this weeks Osprey /T in the Park-gate we are better off with them than without them.  Lets think where would middle-aged men, who have no shed, but like sitting sheds go at the weekend? And for a small extra cost when you book your foreign holiday join the Birdlife Partner of that Country e.g. LIPU BirdlifeMalta or SEO etc.

It does not matter that you may not be able to read all the literature they send you without google chrome translating it.  The point is for only a small percentage cost of your holiday your money will be doing some good. Why pay hundreds of pounds for new bins, when for a few quid extra you could make a contribution to something that may just make a difference to what you look at in future Springs?

Because as @extinctsymbol put it for some species , Once upon a time, the future existed.