I'm slightly late with my sightings blog this week as we've been busy over at Hesketh out marsh carrying out some essential habitat management work, if you haven't had a chance to get over there it's definitely worth a visit - expect to see large flocks of redshanklapwing and oystercatcher - also short eared owl, barn owl and marsh harrier have all been spotted recently - check out our winter overview on the Hesketh out marsh page for more in depth details.

View of Hesketh out marsh by Barry Smith

Anyway, back to Marshside.......To me it feels like spring is on it's way, daffodils have already started appearing in my garden and the birds are noticeably more vocal as the days begin to stretch out longer. One of our spring/summer visitors returned to the reserve on Sunday, two avocets made an appearance on Rimmer's marsh and could be seen from Nel's hide amongst a large flock of black headed gulls - the avocets return around this time to breed so lets hope this will be another successful year for them.

We've had a couple of other new sightings this week, two ruff have been reported on Rimmer's marsh and on Crossens outer there have been reports of a water pipit and a european white fronted goose among the flocks of pink footed geese.

I have noticed large numbers of shelduck and oystercatcher around the reserve, golden plover have been taking to the air - twinkling in the late winter sun as lapwing, curlew and redshank call shrilly across the marshes.

Shelduck and oystercatcher by Barry Smith

A spotted redshank has been seen amongst a flock of redshank and a jack snipe was reported from Sandgrounder's hide where you can also expect to find plenty of our regular visitors - in the water...... pochard, gadwall, pintail, wigeon, shoveler and teal while in the air you can (almost) guarantee peregrine, hen harrier, merlin and buzzard.

A final spring note.........The brown hares are busy chasing each other around the marsh, I've not seen any boxing but it's only a matter of time.

Brown hare by Barry Smith

Of course you know that all this mention of spring means one thing? A cold snap coming in just to prove that winter hasn't quite lost it's grip - we'll find out in the next few weeks!!