With spring just around the corner there are noticeable changes all around the reserve, chiefly the arrivals and departures of all sorts of migrating birds. Our first Wheatear was sighted on the saltmarsh a few days ago perching on a fence post; while the returning avocets are making themselves at home outside Sandgrounders Hide - providing excellent photography opportunities as they display!
Wheatear by Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com)
One of the first signs of spring that I always look for is coltsfoot, a lovely yellow flower not unlike a dandelion to look at. You can now see it in a few places on the grassy banks beside the reserve trails. Also, brown hares have been seen regularly on Suttons Marsh and are best observed from near the housing estate, so it's always well worth taking a longer walk.
Flowering coltsfoot by Guy Rogers (rspb-images.com)
We have been seeing a lot of displaying lapwings making their unmistakable ‘Peewit’ calls, and skylarks are filling the air with their cheerful song. With the winter being a particularly mild one, there has been an obvious exodus of our ducks and geese in recent weeks as they begin to make their journeys back north. I for one will miss the wigeon, whose evocative whistling calls sum up the wild character of winter on the Ribble Estuary perfectly for me.
See you in six months! Pink-footed geese and other wildfowl are now leaving the Ribble Estuary and heading north to their Icelandic breeding grounds. Photo by Steve Round (rspb-images.com)
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