I'm going to start this weeks blog by giving a mention to our early emerging butterflies, I spotted two species while I was out on the marsh this afternoon - Glorious sunshine possibly bringing them out of hibernation.

The first was a peacock butterfly, unmistakable with it's menacing eyes shining brightly in the sun....

Peacock butterfly by Barry Smith

And the second was a number of small tortoiseshell feeding along the bank by the golf course - this butterfly has suffered a worrying decline in recent years with a number of theories being offered, one such theory is an increase in the presence of a parasitic fly which also attacks other species such as peacock and red admiral.

Small tortoiseshell butterfly by Barry Smith

On the bird front it has been business as usual, with large numbers of pink footed geese being seen on the outer marshes, one of our volunteers counted around 4500 over at Hesketh out marsh so it appears they are hanging around the Ribble estuary for a bit longer. We've had a number of swallows spotted flying over Rimmer's marsh and a couple of wheatear sightings - avocet, redshank and black-tailed godwit are also busy feeding out on Suttons marsh (and hopefully getting ready to breed).

Redshank by Barry Smith

A small flock of around 14 twite has been seen and the number of mediterranean gulls being reported from Sandgrounder's hide continues to increase. I've noticed a drop in raptor activity this week, buzzard and sparrowhawk have been hunting around the reserve and just as impressive there has also been a raven patrolling the edges of Suttons marsh.

Lapwing have once again been providing impressive barrel rolls and aerial acrobatics while other sightings include ruff, gadwall, wigeon, teal and little egret.

Lapwing by Barry Smith

I will finish off this weeks list with goldfinch, goldcrest, long tailed tit and meadow pipit......