With fresh snow lying on the hills not so far from the reserve, it is a relief to us that the loch is thawing a little more each day. It seems to be a relief to the birds as well, with the site looking busy again now. Spring is definitely on its way, with signs including the return of gadwall, shoveler and tufted duck within the last week. Although there are still plenty of mallard around, many are pairing up now and beginning to see off the other couples. The mute swans are also noteably in pairs, and a few greylags remind me that it won't be long before they are settling onto nests.
Waders are returning to the area, about 20 oystercatchers have been on the ice in the last few days, and a flock of around 150 lapwing flew over, with a few of them settling for a while.
Snowdrops popping up around the site and trees coming into bud confirm the arrival of spring, but winter hasn't lost its grip yet though. Around 60 whooper swans now seem to be roosting and feeding on the reserve and taking full advantage of the extremely high water levels and moving freely over the marsh from swamp lochan. The smew is still hanging about, showing nicely in front of the Gullery hide this morning and apparently the bittern was seen again yesterday, although today it was doing a very good job of hiding as usual. Goldeneye and goosander are still about also, with large flocks of teal, and a few wigeon.
Today has been such a wonderful day at the reserve, one of those days that just excites me!
The loch is still frozen, although there are some growing areas of open water, but the sun had some warmth today, and you could almost watch the remains of Monday's snow melt away. The loch is quite quiet still, although the Smew is still showing well in front of Swamp hide, and there are a few more mute swans around again. The number of mallard and teal are low, and there are no wigeon around at the moment.
The birds in the woodland certainly think spring is on the way, and as we were working on repairing the path after the winter weather we were encouraged by the singing great tits, coal tits and robins, with an occasional 'chip' from the woodpeckers - beautiful sounds, full of promise of what is still to come.
I believe the red squirrel has been about, consequently I have moved some of the feeders to the carpark area, seems to have been a popular move with many of the birds.
I have also been told of some good sightings of otter at the weekend, and there was a female hen harrier seen yesterday. Unfortunately there has been no sign of the bittern in the last couple of weeks, but I'm sure it must there somewhere.
There has been a report this morning that the red-head smew which has been around the area this winter is back at Kinnordy.
Although there is still plenty of ice, this warmer weather (and rain today) is helping small areas to open up, and a variety of wildfowl are in the area just waiting to return to the loch!