There's definitely a wintry feel to the weather this week. In fact, it was snowing on my drive to work yesterday. We have more snow forecast tonight, and again for Thursday, so if you're planning to visit us this please take care and check our Twitter feed for the latest updates about whether we're open, or the state of local roads.
If, like many people, you are longing for the return of warmer weather this spring, then I have some good news for you, as I've heard that swallows have been heading north across the Mediterranean from Morocco to Spain already. They'll be with us in two months time!
Let's not wish time to travel too fast though. If the wintry weather is too cold for you to head outside, then wrap up warm and watch the new series of Winterwatch,which comes to you from tonight from the beautiful Scottish Highlands. I'm looking forward to seeing footage of red squirrels, pine martins, crested tits and more, which I'm sure will whet my appetite for a trip to the area later in the spring.
If you are up for braving the winter weather, then there's still plenty of wildlife to be seen at Minsmere, though you may need regular visits to the cafe to warm up - any excuse!
There have been several sightings of otters at Island Mere today, as well as displaying marsh harriers, a buzzard, eight whooper swans and several snipe. A Cetti's warbler was singing there too, while a Dartford warbler showed well near the sluice. The Truxor is still being used to manage the reedbed, and is now busy in North Marsh.
Icy conditions can be a good time to see otters, as this photo from a few years ago show - photo by Ian Clarke
Ice covered parts of East and West Scrape this morning, but there were still large flocks of ducks feeding and resting around the Scrape. Among them were two avocets, a few dunlins, black-tailed godwits and snipe, several lapwings, and various gulls. The latter favour the brackish water on South Scrape, and often include a Caspian gull among them. A flock of 200 feral barnacle geese were on the Scrape today, and 11 white-fronted geese flew over, heading south, probably towards RSPB North Warren.
White-fronted goose by Jon Evans
Small birds find the cold weather particularly difficult and the flocks of tits and finches around the visitor centre feeders have been particularly active. A great spotted woodpecker is a regular visitor too. A couple of small flocks of bullfinches were noted around the car park and South Belt Crossroads today, with a flock of siskins at the latter location also containing two lesser redpolls. Redwings, meanwhile, are now best looked for feeding in the leaf litter.
If you are out and about this week, please take care.
Another enjoyable blog Ian. I well see you Wednesday.
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