UK - A hub for migrants

Heligoland trap at Dungeness. Photograph by Mike Toms

Heligoland Trap at Dungeness. Photograph by Mike Toms

The position of Britain and Ireland, located on Europe’s western margins, places us at the centre of a migratory flyway. In summer we are treated to birds that have travelled north to breed, species like Swallow, Nightingale and Whitethroat seeking to take advantage of the seasonal abundance of invertebrate prey that is associated with our long summer days. During the winter we see the arrival of birds from further north, waders and wildfowl that winter here because of the mild conditions and the opportunities afforded by our estuaries and coastal grazing marshes.

Much of our knowledge of these visitors, their ecology, populations and behaviour, comes from the volunteers who give their time so freely to collect much-needed data and observations. The efforts of bird ringers and nest recorders, working in partnership with BTO scientists, provide the evidence needed to underpin and shape conservation policy targeted at the migrant birds using our shores.

Welsh Woodland. Photograph by Mike Toms

Welsh Woodland. Photograph by Mike Toms

Shared perspectives

As part of the BTO/SWLA (Society of Wildlife Artists) Flight Lines Project, SWLA member artists joined bird ringers, nest recorders and others working on migrant birds. By doing this we been able to portray the birds, their habitats and the volunteers who study them in new ways, raising the profile of the research that is being done to understand the challenges that migrant birds face. 

Some of the artwork has been exhibited at the SWLA’s annual exhibition – The Natural Eye – at the Mall Galleries and more of the artwork will be used in the Flight Lines book, due to be published in August 2017.