House Martins – 25th March
House martins are a familiar sight in our Cotswold benefice, arriving like feathered Exocets and checking whether last year’s nests have withstood the winter weather. Sadly, their numbers seem to have been falling year by year and many homes bear the evidence of their decline with old horse-shoe - shaped stains under the eaves where once there was a thriving colony of martins feeding their chicks and often raising two and sometimes three broods across the summer with the older chicks bringing food back for later arrivals.
The British Trust for Ornithology website has provided the data below, the average arrival dates of 24 spring migrants at the Portland Observatory. They arrive a few days later here in Gloucestershire. In some areas of the UK, and certainly in our benefice, Turtle Doves, which should migrate to and from sub-Saharan Africa, are over-wintering in the UK.
Wheatear 11 March Chiffchaff 12 March
Sand Martin 25 March Sandwich Tern 27 March
Ring Ouzel 28 March Swallow 29 March
Blackcap 31 March Redstart 5 April
Tree Pipit 6 April Yellow Wagtail 7 April
House Martin 8 April Grasshopper Warbler 13 April
Whitethroat 15 April Common Sandpiper 15 April
Whinchat 16 April Sedge Warbler 16 April
Cuckoo 19 April Pied Flycatcher 19 April
Garden Warbler 20 April Spotted Flycatcher 28 April
Turtle Dove 20 April Lesser Whitethroat 23 April
Swift 23 April Spotted Flycatcher 28 April
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6 v26