Celebrating Migration and Biodiversity

It’s World Migratory Bird Day and International Day for Biological Diversity this month. In this blog post, we take a closer look at each.

11 May: World Migratory Bird Day

The methods birds use to migrate are almost unbelievable and include sight, smell and even the Earth’s magnetic field. Many species leave and return to the same location each year, sometimes traveling thousands of miles along the way, such as Artic Terns. However, they often face hurdles such as habitat loss, climate change, pollution, and illegal hunting. It’s a sad fact that many perish.

World Migratory Bird Day is an annual global awareness-raising campaign that highlights the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. WMBD raises awareness about the threats faced by migratory birds, and prompts action.

In London, perhaps the most noticeable migratory bird is the Swift. As they race overhead for the few weeks they’re here each year, catching insects mid-flight, their calls are a sign of summer for many. But Swifts are under threat due to habitat loss and scare nesting opportunities. Read more about Swifts, and how you can help. Why not record your first sighting this year and in subsequent years too?

Cuckoos are also returning from Central Africa about now. You can track the progress of some that have been tagged (ethically) with geolocators. When they reach the UK and have been in the same location for a while, why not take a birdwatching trip and try and spot them. All you need is a good pair of binoculars and be Countryside Code-savvy. Read these tips on using binoculars and how to focus them here.

There are several bird groups in London and that you might want to consider looking up too, like the London Bird Club or RSPB Central London Bird Group.

22 May: International Day for Biological Diversity

Biodiversity – the variety of life of Earth – is amazing and vital to planetary and human health. If you’ve watched a David Attenborough programme you’ll know this. Unfortunately, the variety of life on Earth is less today than when Sir David filmed The Trials of Life just 30 or so years ago.

IDBD aims to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues and the importance of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

At London Heritage Quarter we consider biodiversity in our street-based and greening projects. For example, through proposing more and different species of street trees and other planting. Even small items like planters and hanging baskets can play a key role in providing pollinator-friendly plants and habitat. These schemes help create green corridors that wildlife can also use to navigate to other areas. In this way they contribute to wider efforts by statutory bodes we work with such as the Greater London Authority and their All London Green Grid and support Westminster City’s Council’s efforts to address the ecological emergency.

An award-winning example is Strand Aldwych that delivers 1,370 square metres of biodiverse planting and 8,366 herbaceous plants including White Wood Aster, Ajuga reptans ‘Catlin’s Giant’, Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’, Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ and Sedum ‘Ruby Glow’. Strand is an exemplar of a softer, greener, healthier city that helps people – and wildlife – that sits alongside other formal and informal greenspaces within the BID footprints.

Look out for opportunities to get involved in local greening activities in our future newsletters. In the meantime, why not register to volunteer with The Royal Parks. Now that Spring has sprung keep an eye on any new street trees where you live. The London Wildlife Trust also has some great information on getting involved to support wildlife.