February has turned out to be the warmest on record in the UK and this has been shown with the activity from all the wildlife gearing up for the spring season. However, casting the mind back to last year, we were in the middle of a freeze, what a difference a year makes. As with last year the visitor centre will be a hub of activity as the nest cam’s start appearing on the screen. The warm weather has got one pair of Blue Tit’s excited and they are well on their way to completing their nest. Back by popular demand is the Kestrel box and everyone is waiting with baited breather to see if there is a sequel to last years drama. Tawny Owl breed in the discovery area in 2016 and 2017 and it was hoped that 2018 this could be brought to the Visitor Centre live but the new deluxe accommodation did not impress the Owls but suited a pair of Stock Dove’s. Nevertheless 2019 could be the year that finally Owls will be live in the VC. Things looked up with the appearance of a roosting Tawny Owl this week, so is there some action in the box. As with the bird’s, technology can be temperamental and the pressure is on to get the camera up and running and see if there is an Owl in the box.
The “early” spring has seen the first Swallows over Medmerry and a burst of song from many of our resident songsters. Insects are making their first foray’s out after the winter break with bumblebees and butterflies (Small tortoiseshells, Brimstone, Peacock and Red Admiral) enjoying the exceptional February sun. The temperature has allowed the first moth traps of the year with a flourish of early species such as Oak Beauty, Common Quaker and Pale Brindled Beauty.
The winter birds are still the highlight of any visit with excellent numbers of wader and waterfowl making full advantage of the mudflats. These are supplemented with a variety of other long staying favourites. The Hooded Crow continues to give all the birders the run around with it’s elusive behaviour commuting between the fields, spits and even to Selsey Bill. The Cattle Egret continue to be reported around the site but the main flock has moved to Hunston just up the road. The long staying Great White Egret at the Chichester Gravel Pits made a brief appearance over the North Wall, which has also hosted up to 3 Marsh Harrier and a Short-eared Owl. The surprise of the period was a Great Skua which was located by two of our volunteers on Church Norton Spit and then again in the Harbour.
Great White Egret
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