Author: Sarah Osborn

Sunday the 8th May was World Migratory Bird Day, an annual celebration highlighting the beauty and wonder of migratory species, as well as the unique challenges we face in protecting them.

As the old saying goes, ‘one swallow does not make a summer’, however for me, the first sighting of summer migrants in our skies is always exciting. I draw hope from the birds’ regular annual arrival, even if the weather remains unpredictable!

 As I watch the acrobatic flight of my local swallows when they arrive each year, it is easy to forget just how amazing migration is.

Migrating birds can travel several thousands of miles to spend different seasons in different parts of the world.  For some young birds this means finding their way to places they have never been to before. For others, it involves the ability to navigate across continents to exactly the same spot, often the very same nest, year after year. Pretty amazing don’t you think?

As conservationists, this means that we need to ensure that migratory birds have a safe place to live and abundant food in both their summer and winter destinations.  And as the migratory journey itself is often long and arduous, we also need to make sure the birds have a safe place to rest and refuel on route between seasonal destinations. It’s a bit like the bird equivalent of our motorway journeys with those longed for service station breaks!

The successful conservation of these international travellers requires an international response. This is why the RSPB is a partner in BirdLife International, a global partnership of independent organisations who aim to protect our migratory species in their seasonal homes and ‘service stations’ around the globe.

Swift. Credit: Alain Georgy (RSPB)

This is a great time of year to watch wildlife. As well as the swifts, swallows and house martins you will begin to see moving into your neighbourhoods, there are a great many other fascinating species settling in for the summer, or just popping in for a spot of food and a rest before carrying on to their final destination.

Whatever the weather and your plans for the forthcoming weekend, why not head outdoors and take some time to enjoy our new arrivals?

To find out more about the RSPB in Cambridgeshire visit

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