Saturday 9th October has been designated World Migration Day as millions of birds make their yearly journey from breeding grounds to wintering quarters. Waders, geese and wild swans travel from the Arctic tundra to more southerly coastal areas where they can feed in pools and on the shoreline throughout the winter. Swallows, Martins, Swifts and small birds such as warblers migrate to Africa, where there are enough insects to sustain them. Even birds of prey, such as some eagles, kites and buzzards also travel long distances. On the way, all birds need safe places to stop and refuel, be it an area of scrub or wetland. Many of these places are being ‘developed’ by humans at an alarming rate, or are being affected by changing weather patterns, which have in turn have affected the availability of vital water.
A bit of untidiness goes a long way towards helping not just migratory birds but resident ones too. My father regularly has warblers such as Whitethroats and Blackcaps coming in to the garden to feed on honeysuckle berries before they start their journey south. The Knapweed and Lavender seed heads in our garden are worked by Goldfinches extracting the seeds and we have even had Bullfinches taking the seed of Sowthistles. Joan and Ian have a good number of Goldfinches and Greenfinches coming into their garden but have noticed, as we have, that Chaffinches now seem to be struggling, so please keep an eye out for them this autumn. In a normal year, the resident birds are joined by migrants from northern Europe and are very evident under Beech trees, as they feed on the fallen seeds, or beech mast as it is known. RMR