Spring’s not a light switch. We don’t just reach a certain date and there it is. Instead, spring saunters in with each March day bringing the new season a step closer. Take today: five chiffchaff were in full voice on ‘Warbler Way’ - the path from Bolton Ings to Wombwell Ings. Another small step.

Here’s the sightings summary…

As you can see, there were a few surprises today. Five species of geese were visible from either the new Family Hide or the Wader Scrape – or indeed the balcony of the Café! Yes, there were the usual Canadas and Greylags but among them was a solitary pink-footed goose, two Egyptian geese (from mid-morning) and fourteen barnacle geese!

To be fair, it wasn’t always easy to see all of them. The back of the Mere has a sloping bank that runs down towards the reedbeds and the geese grazed along that bank, every so often disappearing from view.

Nevertheless, it was good to see a flock of barnacles at Old Moor, even if they didn’t quite make it to the end of the day, leaving at 16:15 and heading north.

...and two Egyptian geese asleep in front

Another small step came in the form of our booming bittern. This morning the male bittern’s call (or 'boom') came every thirty minutes or so. At the moment he seems to be advertising his whereabouts most noticeably in the first part of the day. His last booms today were just after twelve.

Also a morning creature, the Mediterranean gull seems to show best first thing. This is a returning bird that has bred successfully at Old Moor. It spends the first few hours of the day on Island One of the Mere clearly waiting for its mate. Then, if there’s no show, it becomes far more tricky to find.

Last year visitors observed the same pattern: an early trip to the Family Hide and there was the Med. gull; a late visit and a lot of frustration!

Water rail at Adwick today from Gary Stones. Thanks Gary.

It was also good to see a few more waders today. Yesterday’s black-tailed godwit could still be found at the back of the sand martin bank, between the bank and the Wader Scrape Hide.

Snipe were spotted today on the Field Pool though the report of a dunlin out that way from yesterday, could not be replicated.

And that’s about it for this evening except to say that, on the Reedbed Trail at the moment, you might well hear a sound that – to my ears at least – sounds like some kind of exotic frog!

See what you think...

A water rail 'singing' from Tony Fulford, recorded at Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire. Thanks Tony.

Those of us more used to a water rail’s strange squealing calls, might be surprised to hear that they also ‘sing’. Well, maybe ‘song’ is pushing the definition of that word musically, but scientifically it is just that – a sound made by the males to attract a mate. It’s also another small step towards spring and – you guessed it – most often heard early in the day!

Until next time.

Anonymous