The time is rapidly approaching when we must bid a fond farewell to our overwintering migrant birds and prepare to welcome our summer visitors.

Weather permitting, redwings, which have given me such pleasure this winter together with fieldfares, will before long head northwards back to Scandinavia to breed.

Meanwhile, our warbler species will soon be flying in, the first of which is the chiffchaff (which sings its own name) and a few have already arrived.

For the past thirty years or so, some blackcaps have spent the winter here and I've had a few reports of pairs frequenting garden bird feeders.

A friend of mine holidaying in South Africa tells me that swallows are still plentiful but any day now they will begin their return flights of six thousand miles which take about six weeks and will arrive in Britain in early April.

I've been concerned about the welfare of our bluebirds as there is a severe drought in Capetown which might have caused problems in the extensive reed beds where they roost so it will be interesting to see if our resident Kingston riverside swallow population returns in strength. Let us hope so.

House and sand martins, much reduced in numbers in the past decade also return in April and the last species to arrive will be the swift at the beginning of May.

But what about the cuckoo? Will he return this spring?