Hurrah, the first lapwing chicks of this year have hatched with a brood of four on the lowland wet grassland. Although I hate to say it we could do with some rain to make the ground nice and soft so that the chicks and adults can feed more easily in the drier fields (we have had no rain for over a month but we still have plenty of wetter areas having raised the water-levels through the winter period). The first large red damselflies are starting to emerge with loads of butterflies around too; orange tips seem particularly numerous this year with plenty of lady's smock flowers for the caterpillars. The bluebells are not quite out yet; it has been a late year for most flowers following the very cold spell in February but in a week or so the woods will look gorgeous with blue adding to the white of both wood anemone and wood sorrel mixing with the pale yellow promroses and bright yellow celandines.
The first swift was seen this morning with the first reed warbler singing amongst the reeds (too well hidden to see). Other new arrivals over the last few days include wood warbler and sedge warbler with the first cuckoo heard yesterday. Rather quiet today on the estuary with only a few curlew, oystercatcher and redshank but the woods more than make up for it with redstarts and pied flycatchers everywhere.
Sun shines and butterrflies are out in abundance. Speckled wood, orange tip, peacock, small tortoiseshell, holly blue, brimstone and green-veined white were seen today. New summer arrivals included sedge warbler and garden warbler. The female osprey was seen fishing near the Marian Mawr hide, three ruff were on the flooded fields and there is a strong passage of 'Greenland' wheatears through all the low-lying areas along with a few 'white' wagtails.
Another beautiful morning in unusually sunny West Wales. A quick walk around the reserve on my day off (before compulsory gardening duties) allowed me to enjoy this marvellous place at leisure. Sitting on a bench overlooking the peat bog at Ynys Edwin willow warblers, chiffchaff and sedge warblers sang away and were joined by the reeling of a grasshopper warbler which amazed me by hopping onto the top of a bramble bush and giving me excellent views before it scuttled back into cover again. Tree pipits parachuted overhead and stonechats chacked away amongst the fragrant, coconut smelling gorse. At the Breakwater hide a few ringed plover, dunlin and whimbrel fed on the sand banks in the distance and on the flooded fields the other side of the hide redshank and lapwing displayed noisily. The highlight though were five ruff, some starting to look rather gaudy in breeding plumage, which flew in and started to feed on muddier patches at the edge. I will now happily spend a few hours weeding re-juvenated with the sounds and scents of spring..
Well we have certainly been lucky here at Ynys-hir with the weather. The sun has been shining and the trees and plants are beginning to blossom and bloom. We have been watching the butterflies flutter about the reserve, including brimstone and orange tip. A grass snake showed itself to visitors in the carpark and the squirrels have been equally as entertaining as they race about and hang from the trees. Caroline led a Bird Identification walk on Saturday and was able to show group members our pied flycatchers and redstarts. Canada geese are busy nesting, with one particular goose setting up her nest on the path side! The ospreys have been showing well, with last years female returning too.
Sunny weather has brought a wealth of sightings today with good numbers of summer migrants filling the woods with song. Chiffchaff and blackcap had arrived a few days ago and this morning, pied flycatcher, redstart, willow warbler and tree pipit added to the morning sound. A lesser spotted woodpecker called and drummed most of the morning near the car-park with lots of visitors getting good views. On the estuary two ospreys were seen fishing with one catching a huge grey mullet and a small trickle of waders included some wonderful black-tailed godwits in their amazing reddish-bronze breeding plumage and a few dunlin and ringed plover. Our breeding lapwing are whizzing and whooshing through the air in courtship display with a few already sitting on a full clutch of eggsand teal and shoveler are busy displaying. Oh, must mention lots of brimstone, small tortoiseshell and comma enjoying the sun as I did too at lunch-time half-snoozing away enjoying the spring sounds and smells.