I say that because a lot of people and mainly the popular press cite the first day of Spring as the 1st of March and sometimes it does feel like it and of course we all want it to be so after a long winter.
Walking round RSPB Northward Hill today there was a definate Spring like feel to the reserve, even though the weather was not that warm, a chill breeze made it a cool 9 degree factor.
So what was about today? The beauty of this wonderful place is the diversity of the fauna, woodland species alongside marsh and farmland birds and animals. As I walked through from the car-park and stood there admiring the fantastic and painfully prickly shrub so much a yellow burst this time of year I became aware of a low hum behind me. A Blackthorn in pretty much full bloom with several dozen Honey bees foraging on the recently emerging pristine flowers. It was mesmerising to watch them flitting from petal bud to petal bud gathering what small amount of pollen available this early on in the season.
At Sweeney viewpoint and down to Gordons Hide over-looking the impressive floods stretched out towards the River Thames and beyond, a surprisingly diverse array of ducks, geese and other water birds, all safely protected within the predator fence. Teal, Shoveller, Coot, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Wigeon and Moorhen. Other birds (which always look slightly out of place as I'm used to seeing the on river mud) were Oystercatcher and Shelduck.
The Lapwings were definatly feeling the season flush with males displaying rolling, tumbling, twisting and turning over the water and low islets. Every so often one would break off their nuptials to chase off a percieved threat such as the stunning male Marsh Harrier quartering a nearby reed bed. I watched it as it drifted over the buff, swaying stems looking for a meal, all the time harrassed by either a Lapwing or Corvid.
Out on the marsh a fair few Black-headed Gulls squabbled and chased each other (or maybe pursued a mate, who knows?) In amongst the 40 odd BHGs were a couple of Common Gulls, they too were chased away by the gulls, a shame really as they are much prettier it has to be said.
Over the old Comms building a male kestrel hovered and a buzzard sat nearby hoping to be unnoticed by the locals.
On the way back were Wren, Robin, the never forgotten burst of a Cetti's Warbler! Wood Pigeon and Collared Dove, of which two months ago I counted 47 on the wires over the farm.
As a visitor to this reserve for a mere 8 years, I have been incredibly impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the staff. Volunteers and interns deserve a special mention of course.,
The Reserve, even at this early point in the year is looking brilliant and well worth a visit, 27 species close up.
A favourite today was a Cormorant fishing a few feet in front of the hide, it's not that often to get such a close veiw and appreciate just how big they are.
I really look forward to keeping you updated as the year progresses and as the hill turns from its' many aspects of brown to more stunning verdant shades.
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