"Seconds out, round two..." should be the cry as the ruff at Burton Mere Wetlands are duking it out! Don't worry though as their version of the duking it out is actually more of an showy dance.
These fascinating birds become rather odd-looking at this time of year as their breeding hormones kick in they acquire the most spectacular plumage. The ruff gets a ruff and not only that there are different coloured ruffs with different coloured ruffs ... and just when you thought you were getting to grips with your wader identification.
These males compete for females (and to confuse matters more the females ruffs do not get ruffs and are more correctly known as reeves) by forming a lek, an area of ground were males can display to each other. The ruff lek is very complicated and is difficult to summarise in a few sentences .... so here goes!
WIthin this lekking area several roles for the ruffs have been identified. Some ruffs are typically territorial (usually black or chesnut ruffs) hold and dominate leks. Whilst the white variant tends to be of a roving "satellite" type and tend to try and mate whilst the dominant male is otherwise distracted. A third type of male behaviour has recently been noted too as some males are mimics of females and sneak in to mate!
Currently at Burton Mere Wetlands there are 12 male ruff and they can be seen going through all these behaviours even though there isn't a female in sight!
Its also worth noting that these birds will not breed here but other notable birds breeding here so far include: tree sparrow, avocet, lapwing, redshank, water rail and little grebe. And we've already seen our first ducklings :)
Other recent sightings include (all BMW unless stated): great white egret (Parkgate too), spoonbill (Parkgate), yellow wagtail (x5), spotted redshank (x10), hen harrier, peregrine, white wagtail, grasshopper warbler