Sitting here on a dull, breezy morning, with the remnants of the overnight "rain" (a puny 2.6mm - where was the deluge they forecast?) in the air, the blackthorn bushes blooming in the Kingshill Farm orchard remind me that spring has pretty much arrived. And if that wasn't reminder enough, our stalwart team of Tuesday volunteers have now largely swapped roles and slipped seamlessly into their alter egos of lapwing nest monitors. Tuesday was the first day out looking and they found 5 clutches of lapwing eggs; with another few sitting lapwing seen, but the nests not found. This will be a twice a week activity now through into June. It won't tell us how many lapwing pairs we have, nor do we expect them to find every single lapwing nest, but it will give us a good idea what nest hatching success rates are across the reserve, and to some extent, an idea of chick survival rates too. In addition, we have an MSc student, aided and abetted by a contract worker from the Vodaphone "World of Difference" scheme, who will be looking at redshank breeding success. So what with this, and the breeding bird censuses, nest camera monitoring, fox scat transects, mustelid tunnel monitoring + the general day to day reserve work, we're in for a busy next couple of months!
On the bird front, Monday's 2 spoonbills remained through Tuesday, although there was only one present yesterday. The 2nd yellow wagtail of the spring was along the access track y/day, and there were also 2 white wagtails (the European alba race of pied wagtail) on the reserve. A whimbrel flew over calling after dark on Monday and there was a male blackcap in the orchard on Tuesday. A spotted redshank continues to linger around the Flood and there was a small party of summer-plumaged golden plover on Tuesday. Still a ring-tail hen harrier to Tuesday at least + peregrine. Y/days bird batted across the Flood so fast, most birds didn't have time to react. Just as well she wasn't hungry. And marsh harriers are ever more conspicuous - a scan along the northern boundary of the reserve y/day afternoon saw 7 in the air together!
So as a reminder that spring has arrived, along with one of my favourite birds, here's one I took earlier..
A scan over the Flood this morning revealed 2 sleeping spoonbill-shaped blobs. I did hear a report that there were 2 seen y/day, but there were definitely 2 today and they hung around all day as well. The first yellow wagtail of the year flew over and there was also at least 1 spotted redshank and a singing chiffchaff. A total of 7 species of raptor today, including ring-tail hen harrier, merlin & peregrine. A single brent goose is also still knocking around out towards Spitend.
Well, don't actually - it wasn't that hard to predict! But the first wheatear of the year duly arrived along the access track on Saturday. No sign of it today, but I'm sure that there will be others. There was also a chiffchaff reported. Today's highlight was an adult spoonbill on the Flood this afternoon, initially doing that usual spoonbill thing of sleeping, but later on actually doing stuff like feeding! Birds of prey around over the weekend included a ring-tail hen harrier, merlin & peregrine on Saturday, with merlin and buzzard today. The merlin I saw this afternoon was making a mockery of the "anti-crow perch" nails that have been stuck in the fence posts around the Flood, as it was perched on the nail! But then it's not a crow, I suppose.. The winged white-front continues to survive with it's adopted family of Canada geese, at least 2 Med gulls were around tthis afternoon and there was a single rock pipit. There were also 3 ruff half way along the access track, as well as a corn bunting near Kingshill Farm.