One of the wonders of mid-March is the return of the chiffchaffs. These are small, insect-eating birds, about the size of a blue tit. They spend their winters in the eastern Mediterranean or northern Africa. Then they make the impressive journey back to north western Europe, arriving in time for spring.

Here’s today’s summary…

Today at Old Moor, visitors couldn’t help but notice that the rising temperatures had brought on some of the first insects. Especially along Green Lane, there were plenty of small flies that seemed to have hatched in the last couple of days.  And with perfect timing – there were the chiffchaffs, ready to prey on them!

Five chiffchaff could be found on Green Lane today, mostly feeding but tentatively singing their name too. It was another reminder for us that spring is slowly gathering pace.

Redshank on the Mere today

Three redshank could be found on the Mere today, adding their voices to the increasing hubbub of the spring bird song. Which reminds me, it’s a way off yet, but you might want to consider treating yourself to a Dawn Chorus Walk. We have one coming up on May 3 and details can be found on Old Moor’s Facebook page. Always popular, booking is essential.

Right, enough of the shameless plugs, back to the birds. Although they were a bit tricky to find after mid-morning, the two Mediterranean gulls were again seen on the Mere. Since my last blog, the first bird’s mate has clearly returned – fingers crossed for another successful breeding year.

Mute swan today at Wath Ings, the male on the left

To my knowledge, neither bittern nor beardies were reported today. However, some of the more familiar bird species were making themselves more noticeable. The on-again / off-again romance of a pair of great crested grebe on the Reedbed Trail was a good distraction. Likewise the intimidating behaviours of the male mute swans on Wath Ings surprised some visitors.

Maybe a gift will help? Great crested grebe today at Old Moor.

For me, the most uplifting sight in the Dearne Valley today was found a few miles from Old Moor, at the remarkable Adwick Washland. There, sixteen avocet were seen today, looking as dazzling as ever in the late afternoon sunshine.

Until next time.

Avocet at Adwick