Signs of Spring?

Apologies for lack of posting,  but I’ve been having a few problems with getting onto the internet over the last couple of days so here’s just a quick blog of some highlights from Sunday and Monday.

A scheduled guided walk on Sunday was entitled ‘Spring Firsts’ and although the conditions weren’t very spring-like we did manage to see a few token indicators of spring. The native daffodils were well in flower as were a few greater celandine. The 100+  sand martins over Ibsley water and a fine male scaup seen from Gosander Hide confirmed that birds are on the move.

Later that day we were lucky enough to catch up with a couple of little gulls (an adult and a juvenile) hunting over Ibsley Water. I believe they’ve were seen on  Saturday, but weren’t in evidence today (Monday). I know gulls aren’t everyone’s idea of exciting birds, but it’s always good to see something a little different. I managed a few distant images which show some of the field marks and behaviour to look out for.


Adult Little Gull – smaller than black-headed and lacking any black on wing tips


but they have very dark underwing and if you look closely a pinkish wash to the belly


a butterfly like flight , dipping into the water with their dangling feet as they pick-up food from the surface – often flying along the same path then flying back to repeat the run over the same patch of water – a bit ‘tern like’ in this respect

Several hundred black-tailed godwit have  also been making use of Ibsley water, many roosting on the peninsula to the right of the Tern Hide. Some ten of these are carrying colour rings on their legs and Pete Potts , co-ordinator of “Operation Godwit” and who has been ringing these birds both at Farlington and in Iceland, was trying to check out these rings. He reported that several had been ringed locally and some in Iceland and at least one of them was first ringed 18 years ago, when it was already an adult.

Pete would be very grateful if any colour ring records of black-tailed godwits that visitors might make could be e-mailed to him at

Just a  few of the black-tailed godwit on Ibsley Water -  some in their breeding plumage

Just a few of the black-tailed godwit on Ibsley Water – some in their breeding plumage

One of the features of this time of year has been the influx of more woodland birds onto the reserve, and into many gardens, as the depletion of natural food and the fact that many birds are starting to move back to their breeding grounds, has led them to make greater use of the food we put out.  Whilst lesser redpoll and siskin numbers on the reserve are still high, the number of brambling have increased significantly with up to twenty taking spilt niger seed from around one of the feeders outside the Woodland Hide.

A few brambling picking through the spilt niger seed

A few of the brambling picking through the spilt niger seed



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