Along with the recent warmer weather, longer daylight hours and new leaves emerging on the trees, the sound of chiffchaffs singing around the reserve (photo by John Bridges, RSPB images) is a clear indication that spring has begun. These are one of our earliest migrants to arrive from Africa with the first one heard on 13/3. Another early arrival as usual has been sand martins with the first ones seen on 14/3. Reed Buntings have also started singing recently, establishing territories in the reeds around the boardwalk and near the Tal y Fan hide.
Other signs of spring have included the first bumblebee sightings with white-tailed and buff-tailed bumblebees seen so far, along with a small tortoiseshell butterfly and a ruby tiger moth caterpillar. Amphibians have also been seen frequently including smooth newts in the dipping pond and common toads around the trails. Some of the first flowers of spring are also appearing around the reserve including cowslips and primroses.
Other bird highlights once again have included a further sighting of a firecrest on 20/2, and a spotted redshank present with the redshank flock on 11/3, 12/3 and 14/3.
Wildfowl continue to include a pair of goldeneye on the shallow lagoon, and while wigeon and teal are still present, their numbers have noticably reduced as they begin to head back to their breeding grounds in Iceland or northern continental Europe. Mergansers have also been present throughout with a monthly peak of 17 on 24/2, and shoveler have remained in good numbers with at least 15 present, along with up to five pochard. A pair of goosander were present on 18/3 and a great crested grebe has also been seen intermittently.
Other waders have included regular greenshank with up to two present, and an individual black-tailed godwit which has stayed with us for most of the winter. Snipe have been present in good numbers over the season and are still here, often seen feeding around the lagoon edges and islands.
Passerines have also included regular stonechats and good numbers of bullfinches.
Aside from the wildlife, our Carneddau mountain ponies have also provided a lot of excitement over the last few weeks with three new foals born. The first two foals were born on the weekends of the storms during February and were aptly named 'Ciara' and 'Jorge'. The third foal, born at the beginning of March was given a seasonal name - 'Blossom' by our group of Wildlife Explorers. These new arrivals bring our current number of grazing ponies to 11 (all three are pictured above during the last week).
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