SOMETHING remarkable happens at this time of the year.

In his book Say Goodbye To the Cuckoo, Michael McCarthy portrays it precisely: ‘If we could see it as a whole, if they all arrived in a single flock, say, we would be truly amazed: sixteen million birds. Swallows, martins, swifts, warblers, wagtails, wheatears, cuckoos, chats, nightingales, nightjars, thrushes, pipits and flycatchers pouring into Britain from sub-Saharan Africa.’

The spring migration is upon us and, as McCarthy points out, if we could witness this event as a single mass flock of sixteen million birds, it would ‘lead television news and dominate the papers’.

You only have to read one of the Portland Bill Bird Observatory reports at this time of year to realise that countless journeys of enormous distance and challenge are made to our shores by birds of relatively miniscule proportions.

Sadly, the annual journeys that these birds make are becoming increasingly challenging as climate change, land-use change and declining insect populations take their toll.

Yet there is something we can all do to make our welcome for these insectivorous birds much warmer.

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, you can make your garden more insect-friendly: avoid pesticides and herbicides, create a water source, plant insect-friendly flowers or create a woodpile.

You can also provide nest boxes for certain bird species.

UK swift numbers have fallen by 50% in the last 25 years and a lack of nest sites is thought to be one of the reasons behind this.

If you would like to help urban birds, especially the swifts that make the 7000 mile journey from sub-Saharan Africa each spring, then contact Taunton Deane Swifts and we can advise on the best nest box for your property.

With more than 20 swift boxes installed In Taunton Deane already this spring, the future, for swifts and other urban birds at least, is looking a little brighter.