A week of warm southerly winds at the end of February saw the earliest recorded arrival dates of some of our summer migrants.

A whimbrel was seen on 26/2 and three sand martin were over the lagoons on 28/2, having both arrived from their wintering grounds in Africa. Two singing chiffchaff seen on 27/2 were also thought to be new arrivals from Africa, although we do have small numbers over-wintering locally, with regular sightings on the reserve over the past few months. Sand martins and chiffchaffs are among the first summer migrants to arrive each year, usually around mid-March, while whimbrel is more often not recorded until April. This is the first time any of our summer migrants have been recorded in February, perhaps a further sign of the changing climate and unpredictable weather patterns. 

Another first for the reserve was a water scorpion found in the dipping pond on 1/3, a species which closely resembles land scorpions in appearance but lacks a tail which can sting. Smooth newts were also recorded in the dipping pond on 28/2, the first ones seen this year, while a comma butterfly seen on 25/2 was another early record.

Other sightings around the reserve have remained more typical, certainly for the time of year, with a long staying pair of goldeneye on the shallow lagoon proving to be one of the highlights. Numbers of shoveler have been good this winter with up to 16 regularly present, while pochard peaked at 14 on 23/2, another good count for the reserve of what is a relatively scarce wildfowl species. Up to two female goosander have also frequented the deep lagoon along with small numbers of red-breasted merganser, while a long staying great crested grebe in winter plumage has occasionally been joined by a summer plumaged individual, hopefully a sign that this species might attempt to breed again this year. 

Wader highlights have included a greenshank present on several dates, a bar-tailed godwit on 18/2 and 19/2, and regular black-tailed godwit peaking at 12 on 19/2. A woodcock was also seen around dusk on 26/2. 

Meanwhile a kingfisher has become a regular sight in recent weeks, often around the bridge pond, while other highlights have included two red kite over the car park on 16/2, and occasional chough also seen flying over.

Events over February half term included Build your own Nest Box on 23/2 and Love Lego, Love Nature on 26/2 which involved building lego models and using i-pads to create wildlife animations. The Feathered Friends Food Trail also ran throughout half term allowing children to learn more about different bird species and what they eat. A Fun Play Friday also took place during half term on 1/3 with a variety of children's activities on offer. For adults, a Winter Wildfowl Walk took place on 10/2, led by the warden and focusing on the variety of wildfowl species that over-winter on the reserve. Regular events included a Binocular and Telescope Weekend held on 2/3 and 3/3, weekly volunteer led Wildlife Walks on Saturday mornings, Nordic Walking and Tai Chi workshops for adults on Thursdays and Muddy Puddles sessions for toddlers on Wednesdays. The monthly Farmers Market was also held on 27/3. 

Anonymous
  • Hi, not quite the first Feb migrants; i had a Sand Martin on 23.2.07 during a blast of warm SW-erly winds. It's in the COS report and would have been included in the An Rpt. Only other Feb migrant i can think of is a Wheatear in late 90's (Ian Higginsons time), it subsequently snowed and was sadly found dead by the back door of the VC (now Coffee Shop). ATB, Mike D.