Spring is in the air once again. The birds are singing and that includes at least two booming bitterns. Earlier in the month, you may have noticed a strange machine (pretty much a floating digger) at work in front of reception. The Truxor, as it is known, was clearing parts of the vegetated edgings of the reserve to promote freshwater movement to flush out saline water caused by all the floods we've been having lately. It will also encourage new growth and create areas for bitterns and other birds to feed from.  

Though the flooding has eased off recently, the paths have remained muddy, but it is slowly drying out nicely. As usual, check out our Facebook page for the latest news.  Ahead of the bank holiday weekend we were able to open the Lackford Run, which means Fen Trail is now open beyond Tower Hide.  This path is still particularly wet though and we advise wellies if you want to walk the full circular trail.  

When it comes to wildlife sightings, there's been a lot to talk about this month. So lets get into it. Here's March's highlights.

Cranes have been taking some interest in Strumpshaw, Buckenham and the land in between in the last couple of months. And it wasn't just one pair either. About 4-6 birds have been seen at one point. On March 7th, a pair was seen in front of Fen Hide. Fingers crossed that we'll have a more successful breeding season from them this year!

Spring migrants have been making their way back to the reserve, some earlier than last year. While some chiffchaffs and blackcaps have been overwintering here and have been heard towards the end of February, there has been plenty more of them singing by March 18th. The first two sand martins of the year was spotted on the 17th, the first swallow on March 23rd, house martin and willow warbler on the 22nd, sedge warbler on the 24th and more surprisingly was the first hobby swooping by on the 15th.

Outside reception, a pair of great crested grebes have been displaying to one another in a series of beautiful courtship dances, in which they mirror each others movements face to face. Included in their repertoire is the 'penguin dance'. The pair goes off to find a piece of vegetation and approach each other with it at pace and stand breast to breast upright on the water swaying their finds back and forth.

Meanwhile, male marsh harriers have been busy performing their sky dances over the reserve. Watch them closely as they dive and ascend in the sky like a yo-yo attached to a string. Over in the meadows, meadow pipits have been performing their parachute displays with the males launching into the air in full song and then gliding back down again.

In notable sightings, the red throated diver (along the river) and the ruddy shelduck (at Cantley) remained to be seen up until early March and a raven at Strumpshaw around that time also. We've had a few fly overs at Strumpshaw in the form of 5 whooper swans on March 6th, a spoonbill on the 7th, 5 waxwings briefly on the 13th and, best of all, a white tailed eagle above Cantley on the 24th. We've also had the odd grey seal sighting in the river this month and a couple of red deer at Buckenham at one point.

There are more butterflies and other insects are now on the wing and lizards are bathing in the sun along the Sandy Wall path borders. In plant news, there's been an increase in lesser celandine, sweet violet and daffodils, while the first forget-me-nots and lords and ladies arums are starting to emerge.

My plant of the month for March, though, is a type of sedge. You can see dark tufts of them across the reserve, a lot shorter than the reeds that tower above them. However, my pick goes to the tufted sedge, which you can find beside the toe dipping platform near the pumphouse. They are stunning to look at with a brown pointed tip, an orange tufty bit below that and a white fuzz down the stem. They remind me of little rockets blasting off with a white smoke at the bottom.

It is currently school Easter Holidays and we have plenty of egg-cellent activities for your little ones to do, our Great Dino Easter Egg Hunt runs daily until the 14 April and you can also hire pond dipping kit and adventure backpacks.

As we enter April, expect a lot of nesting birds and, hopefully, plenty of ducklings and other fluffy young birds. Keep an eye out also for more migrant birds such as the first cuckoo. See you next month!