Aire Valley Sightings Blog- April 2024

 Top Ten birds at RSPB St Aidan's this April

Black-tailed Godwit

Common Tern


Bearded Tit



Black-necked Grebe



Sand Martin


April is a thrilling time for anyone with an interest in birds. The return of the migrants from their winter habitats brings the sights and sounds of the birds we’ve missed for the last 6 months or so.  The air is filled with the sound of returning warblers along the reserve paths surrounded by shrubs and trees.  First, the Chiffchaffs, then the Willow Warblers and Blackcaps return. As the days go by, Reed and Sedge Warblers are heard chattering in the reeds and with luck, seen.  White Throats sing from the top of the trees.  

Resident birds also give a show.  Mute Swans and Great-crested Grebes are bonding through their courtship and mating displays.  The Lapwings are showing their spectacular flight displays as they call, swoop and dive. 

The stars of early April at RSPB St Aidan’s are the booming Bitterns and the returning Black-necked Grebes.  A significant percentage (around 33%) of the Black-necked Grebes breeding in Britain are located at RSPB St Aidan’s and in general are easy to see – they are not shy birds here.  Bitterns, on the other hand, can be more difficult to spot – but at this time of the year there’s a good chance of seeing one, or more, flying over the reedbeds, but their booming call will definitely be heard.

Any visit to RSPB St Aidan’s can offer a surprise.  One day there may be hundreds of Sand Martins feeding over the lagoons, another day the numerous Black-headed Gulls will be flying above, screaming loudly, having been spooked by some mysterious disturbance.  A Mediterranean Gull standing on a post amongst the Black-headed Gulls gives an insight into the differences between the two, with the significantly darker black head, brighter red bill and legs, larger size of the Mediterranean Gull being noticeable.

There is always something interesting to see – the wildflowers, such as Lady’s Smock and Snakeshead Fritillaries, are visible at the side of the footpaths bringing an additional dimension to spending time at RSPB St Aidan’s.

The weather in April has been wet and windy; higher than average rainfall for the time of year and high winds on many days.  Causeways have been flooded and some paths may be too muddy to easily negotiate.  But a visit to RSPB St Aidan’s never fails to be enjoyable regardless of the weather!

Written by: helena

Photos: K.Speight, M.Wontorowski

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