The dunnock and robin have been singing for a while now and today – even in the rain – the great tit joined in. It may still be mid-winter, but you don’t have to look very far for signs of early spring.

Here is today’s summary of sightings…

Most of the birds at Old Moor only seem to see us humans as threats, but one species at this time of year spots us coming a mile off – and for very different reasons. Robins are crafty observers of humanity. They know exactly which buttons to press to get a handout!

Today, two robins perched either side of Field Pool West so that as you left, you’d have to pass by one of them. A little chirrup alerts you to their presence. They make – and hold – eye contact. Perhaps they might cock their head and chirrup again.

It works every time! As we reach for the seed, the robins flutter over for a closer view. And like the smart little con artists that they are, we hand over the food and actually feel pleased that they chose us. Genius!

With thanks to good sports, Jane and Dennis

Beardie fans were not disappointed today either. Despite a bit of weather, five bearded tit showed well near the ‘corner’ of the Reedbed Trail as it makes a final turn towards the Reedbed Screen.

Inspired by recent reports and sightings, the Reedbed Trail saw a lot of visitors today some who had travelled miles to see these charming residents of the reedbeds. And with good reason – there are few places where folks can get views such as this…

A terrific shot of a female bearded tit from Marc Ratcliffe. Thanks Marc.

I’ll finish up tonight with a tale of monstrous gulls. Right now Bolton and Old Moor seem to be attracting numbers of great black-backed gulls. These large powerful beasts are 74cm in length (that’s two and a half feet!) and with a wingspan more than twice that.

Today there were both adult great black-backs and younger birds on the Mere (they take four years to reach maturity). One, first winter great black-back was just preening - getting ready for its photo - when into view waddled a lesser black-back, keen to show off – of all things - its stone!

There seems to be a lot of ‘stone-play’ in the young gulls at the moment. One will find a suitable rock and then others will chase it – trying to rob the owner of their prize. Sometimes they’ll even practise dropping and re-catching the stone in flight before it hits the water.

Look out for that one on your next visit!

Until next time.