It has been unseasonably warm of late with temperatures reaching twenty Celsius for the last two days. The local wildlife has reacted in different ways... our own Lapwings are beginning to return and the sunshine has prompted them into bouts of tumbling display and this is perfectly normal for the time of year and does not necessitate and early nesting season. Similarly our Skylarks have been singing for several weeks now and Cetti’s Warblers, Reed Buntings and a couple of wintering Chiffchaffs have been bursting into song.
Dunnocks,Song Thrushes, Blackbirds, Wrens and Robins are now giving it large and at least two pair of Bearded Tit are still being encountered on the trails.
Displaying male Lapwing - Tony O'Brien
Cetti's Warbler - Lawrence Rogers
Chiffchaff - Barry Tranfield
Skylark- Ian Plume
Bearded Tit - Tony O'Brien
and by Simon James
But at heart it is still February and therefore still winter and the marsh is still covered in over a thousand Lapwing, and buckets of wintering duck of all the usual dabbling species.
Pintail - Dawn Cowan
Teal - Lawrence Rogers
Buzzards have been thermalling everyday and undoubtedly include some passage as well as our own local birds and six Marsh Harriers are still on site and often riding the thermals with the Buzzards and countless gulls.
Buzzards - Andy Tweed
Buzzard - Paul Rigby
Marsh harrier - Bernard Bradshaw
Three Red Kites have been seen passing through and Peregrines have been incredibly active especially two immature birds while one of the Short-eared Owls have been sunning on the saltmarsh.
Short-eared Owl - Andrew Litchfield
Black-headed Gulls are certainly on the move with spirals of hundreds drifting high into the blue cloudless sky and drifting generally eastish towards the coast and their Baltic breeding grounds.
Common Lizards have been seen out on the trail and Marsh Frogs are now out in numbers and already falling foul of Grey Herons and Little Egrets but Grass Snakes have remained sensibly hidden away until the pretend spring passes by.
Grey Heron and a soon to be ex Marsh Frog - Andy Reid
Marsh Harrier - Bernard Bradshaw
The protracted warm spell has brought out the five regular early species of butterfly with Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Red Admiral and Comma all being seen along with a few early flies but no hovers as yet.
Brimstone - John Ferguson
Peacock - Andy Reid
Small Tortoiseshell - Lawrence Rogers
Stomoxys calcitrans - the Stable Fly - HTV
Honey Bees have been seen and Buff-tailed Bumblebees have been visited the Rosemary and doomed Peach blossom. The latter have included Workers as well as Queens so there has to be an overwintering nest out there somewhere.
Buff-tailed Bumblebees - Bombus terrestris- Andy Reid
Hopefully these early insects will survive a change in the weather but with only a limited nectar source to hand many will not have gained enough energy to make it through to the real spring almost a month away.
Even our own bodies are telling us that this is all wrong. A day of unseasonably warm weather and we all get caught out (the same the other way too) but this spell has thrown all the 'It must be Spring' switches and we are all beginning to think that it is late April or early May. Shorts, t-shirts, skirts, vests and sandals have all made appearances over the last few days and yet tomorrow we lose over ten degreen and all the winter wear that we should be wearing will be back on as it should be. Wildlife is adaptable but there will be casualties so keep feeding and providing water for your birds, protect your plants and keep your fingers crossed that any early fruit blossom survives...
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