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Bird migration map

Bird migration map

Regular price £40.00
Regular price Sale price £40.00
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My bird migration map is a painting of 42 species of birds that migrate to and from the British Isles

In my bird migration map, I have shown, schematically, the approximate direction each species goes and when. These are not hard and fast rules. My map is intended as an aide-memoire for anyone interested in the natural world to see - at a glance - the main comings and goings of our most welcome avian guests.

This painting was featured on BBC Autumnwatch in October 2021.

  • An original painting in watercolour, size 730mm x 520mm on 600gsm cotton rag paper
  • A2 size signed poster prints
  • Digital file for you to make a single print at a format and size of your choice
  • I also have tea towels and greetings cards of this painting

Migrants welcome!

In February 2021, my friend Stephen messaged me. "...How great it would be to have some kind of graphic representation of when in the year various birds arrived and departed. It occurred to me that something like this might be ideally suited to one of your lovely paintings."

He planted the seed of an idea in my head, and it started to grow. It took me a while to work out how I was going to show it, and to narrow down a list of species to illustrate.

In spring and autumn, millions of birds migrate to and from the British Isles*. And some move within the archipelago. Some come from Europe and others travels tens of thousands of miles. For example, the bee-eater may come north from Iberia for the summer, while the swallow comes all the way from Southern Africa.

They migrate for many reasons. Overwintering birds come here to escape the harsh dark and cold further north - geese, waders, divers, ducks. Summer visitors come to breed, knowing they'll be able feast on the summer bounty airborne insects - think swifts and warblers. Discover more about bird migration.

How do birds know where to migrate to?

Science is still trying to work out exactly how the birds 'know' where to go and when to go there.

In most cases, day length appear to the be cue that sets the birds off. It is thought that some species are born with an innate endogenous ability to know where to go - a kind of mental map.

Other species need to 'learn' the migration routes, accompanying their parents and siblings on their first journey. And it may be a combination of these factors. In my painting I have illustrated the main means that it is thought that the birds use: Earth's magnetic field, the position of the sun, moon and stars, including Polaris, the Pole Star.

What's not on my bird migration map

Much as I would like to have done, I couldn't possibly fit all the birds that come to and from the British Isles on my map. I know there are glaring omissions.

The nightingale is left out because I was looking for distinctive species to show. Nightingales are a small brown bird and don't wear snazzy costumes; they don't need to with such a gorgeous song.

And warblers. So many warblers! Reed warblers, grasshopper warblers, garden warblers, willow warblers, chiffchaffs, etc. Many of them look very, very similar. I chose one warbler to represent them all. The sedge warbler, because I see them every summer, and I love their bonkers song.

Note about the term "The British Isles"

I have used the term "British Isles" as a geographic term to describe the archipelago that lies off the north west coast of Europe. It consists of two sovereign nations: 1. the Republic of Ireland, and 2. the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

I use the term "British Isles" in an entirely non-political way. The birds know nothing of history and politics - they see only opportunity, safety and place to make a living.

In my world, migrants are always welcome!

Shipping and delivery

This website takes orders from UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

If you are not in these countries and you would like to make a purchase, please get in touch with me directly.

Posting your order

Typically, orders for physical products placed after 12pm on Friday, and on Saturday or Sunday will not be posted until Monday at the earliest. I use Royal Mail to dispatch your order.

If you have ordered multiple items, I will try to post everything together. Occasionally, this is not possible, in which case they will be dispatched in separate packages.

Digital files will typically be transferred to customers within 24 hours via email using WeTransfer, the file transfer website.

Buying an original painting? Please choose the tracked option!

UNITED KINGDOM (incl. Channel Islands, Isle of Man)

  • UK Royal Mail second class – 3 to 5 working days (can be longer at busy times of year)
  • UK Royal Mail tracked next day special delivery – next day by 1pm

If you choose a tracked delivery, I will be notified with your Royal Mail tracking number when your parcel has been dispatched.


IMPORTANT! All international orders are shipped duties unpaid. Orders shipped outside of the UK may be subject to customs, taxes and duties. This cost is the responsibility of the customer and is payable on receipt of goods. Please check your local customs tax and duty costs as duties must be paid before the goods are released.

Royal Mail International Tracked service (7-14 days)

Royal Mail International Tracked service (7-14 days)

EUROPE (Rep of Ireland, France, Germany and Denmark only)
Royal Mail International Tracked service (7-14 days)

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