Now that march is in full swing, many of us are turning our thoughts to the start of bird migration and the arrival of some of the trail blazers such as sand martin and wheatear. Having a look at the average arrival dates for some of the more common species on the Birdtrack site (here) gives you a idea about when to expect the influx. I try to keep track with the Portland Bird Observatory updates as they are in prime position to witness some of the first migrants to make landfall, check out their site here. Of course some of the birds that have been with us this winter will be heading back to their breeding grounds.
With peak migration still to come, things closer to home are stirring after the long winter. We have been getting lots of reports of frogs in mating clinches as well as lots of spawn reports, especially from the south. This coincided with the mysterious appearance of a jelly like substance being noticed which could be the result of frogs or toads being predated, the predator leaving the spawn behind. Gruesome stuff! Toads need help crossing roads in many parts of the UK and our conservation colleagues at Froglife coordinate toad patrols at traditional crossing points near to toad breeding pools, you can volunteer to help, click here for more info'.
I always see spring as being truly here when the first daffodils in flower and i'm happy to say that they are now starting to pop open in my local patch! Other than crocus, winter flowering honeysuckle, snowdrops and gorse, there is not much about for any early bees and given the threat of more chilled days to come, its likely they will stay in hibernation for a little while yet.
Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
These cold temperatures are a reminder that it's tough for a bird out there and they are battling to find enough food. We have had lots of reports of birds usually associated with farmland and woodland habitats zoning in on garden bird feeders as the natural seed supplies are at a low point, what you could call a 'food gap'. Some of the species observed are reed buntings, yellowhammer and linnet as well as the woodland species like lesser redpoll, siskin and even hawfinch. Keep feeding throughout the cold spell and it's also a timely reminder to leave any herbaceous borders uncut through the winter because at this time of year, any seed that is left can be a big draw for local finches.
One species that does seem to have disappeared from most places is the waxwing, we've only had a couple of reports from London recently, where they were taking advantage of some lingering berries, but the rest seem to have moved on. Have you seen any recently?
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