It's been another week of avian arrivals and entomological emergence this week with the good weather bringing stuff out.
Bird wise, we have been treated to the first cuckoos singing on site, a brilliant grasshopper warbler singing persistently from the silt lagoon behind the Beach Hut, the first 2 common terns south of the new viewing screen and whitethroat singing from the boundary hedgerows. The avocets are still around and can sometimes be seen from the new viewing screen flying from the southern end of the site over Phase 2, numbers of sand martins are slowly building, marsh harrier has been see a couple of times in the last two weeks over Phases 1 and 2 and lapwings are displaying over the Phase 1 islands.
We now have 8 species of butterfly on the wing - peacock, small tortoiseshell, comma, red admiral, brimstone, small white and new this week, orange-tip and speckled wood. The cuckoo-flower - larval foodplant of the orange-tip, now in full bloom looks brilliant in among the cowslips.
I had the first Bibio marci, (St. Mark's Fly) on Tuesday - another real sign of spring. They are said to emerge on St. Mark's Day (25th April), hence their name, but they were four days early this year!
And the entomological highlight of this week has to be my first Cicindela campestris (green tiger beetle) of 2015 and one of my personal favourites. They look stunning with bright green colouration and yellow spots on the elytra (wing cases). They are a good size too, at an average of around 15-18mm in length. They can be seen running over bare or stony ground and I saw mine on the southern part of the Cromwell Trail, so keep your eyes open for them running over the path.
Cuckoo, now back on site. John Bridges (rspb-images.com)
Not a word we can use that often at Langford, but Conservation Officer, Carl Cornish certainly had one last Tuesday evening with the following recorded -
1 spotted redshank - glorious bird in full breeding plumage. This species is less than annual at Langford, so lovely to get one 'in the bag' for this year!
3 ruff - still on site.
1 little ringed plover
1 ringed plover
Fabulous effort - thanks Carl!
Nice! Spotted redshank. Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)
Well, winter seems to have finally given way to spring (almost...it's a little chilly today!), but the past week has been glorious and has produced some great sightings - most welcome after such a slow start.
Wader-wise, we have had 5 ruff on site - almost unheard of for Langford. This is a species that usually turns up as singles in autumn and not always every year. We had a good year for them in 2014, with several singles throughout the autumn. However, to have 5 together in spring is most pleasing. Both ringed plover and little ringed plover have been present on site all week, 2 black-tailed godwit were on Phase 3 early in the week, curlew, green sandpiper and redshank have been vocal and lapwing are displaying over the southern end of the reserve.
Passerine migrants are arriving too, with increasing numbers of chiffchaff, the first willow warbler and blackcap on Thursday morning and the first sedge warbler in yesterday morning, singing from scrub at the south-western corner of the Cromwell trail (where you go up the slope, through the scrub).
Sand martins are increasing in number, with about 120 over on Thursday morning. No activity in the bank yet, but it's early days still and we will be sure to keep everyone posted on their progress. Beach Hut volunteer Peter Leach saw the first swallow over site yesterday afternoon too.
And two good raptor records from yesterday. Thanks to a tip off from Mike Warren, we were treated to the second red kite sighting over the office in a month. After an absence since last March, it's nice to see two in quick succession. A species we hope to see much more of in the future. A phone call from Julie late yesterday afternoon to report a male marsh harrier over the visitor trails was also most welcome news.
Butterflies are finally emerging in numbers, with small tortoiseshell, peacock, brimstone, comma and red admiral now on the wing. Orange-tip, green-veined white and speckled wood will be next to emerge, so keep looking. Large red damselfly and four-spot chaser should be the first of the Odonata to appear soon and don't forget to look out for last year's new discovery on site - the hairy dragonfly. They fly from April-early June and I hope to confirm their presence here again this year.
The cowslips on Phase 1 are now in full bloom, trees are coming into leaf, blackthorn blossom is out and lesser celandine, coltsfoot, red dead-nettle and ground ivy are all in flower.
Pleased to hear the first sedge warbler of the year yesterday (10th April). Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
This sand martin image was taken in 2012 at our bank - won't be long before it's full of nest holes again. Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)