Can Spring be far behind?

It was quite cheering to note, as I drove over here this morning, that the temperature was in double figures – O.K. only ten degrees, but a lot better than many mornings  earlier this year!!  The change in wind direction to a brisk southerly is also most welcome and bodes well for spring migration.

Chiffchaff have been singing here for a few weeks, but I heard my first willow warbler near the Ivy North Hide today. The Woodland Hide still boasts a number of brambling, but surely it can’t be much longer before they head off north-east to their breeding grounds in Scandinavia.  Also on patrol outside this hide, some fifteen or more lesser redpoll were feeding on the niger seed, either directly from the feeders or on the large mass of seed on the ground around the feeders.  I can remember, not that long ago, when it was a special treat to bump into a small flock or even just a couple of lesser redpoll in the New Forest.   In the last five or so years the numbers of these birds have increased tremendously and I know people who regularly see them in their garden.  Whether it’s just one of those natural cycles or the fact that the provision of more acceptable  food  has encouraged them into gardens, and wildlife reserves, is a matter of conjecture. Whatever the reason its grand to see them and at this time of year the males are looking particularly smart. I managed to get this picture of one away from the feeders, in a more natural looking setting.

Lesser redpoll in fine breeding plumage

Lesser redpoll in fine breeding plumage

The sharp eyed will have noticed that this bird carries a ring on its leg, probably put there by one of our local ringers. Information from these ringing studies helps to give us a picture of the numbers of birds and how long they live and stop with us.  At this time of year, with the breeding season starting, ringing activities are suspended and one of my tasks today was to bring in the now almost empty feeders that had been put out to attract birds to the ringing area  I couldn’t resist this picture, of a siskin, the last bird to use this feeder before I took it away.

Last siskin on the feeder

Last siskin on the feeder

Fortunately, he won’t have too far to fly to find our other, well topped-up niger seed feeders on the reserve.


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