Although spring has been creeping up on us for a little while now, today felt like one of the first really spring-like days. Perhaps it was because I got out of the office and around the reserve. We went on a walk around the northern part of the reserve to check on various jobs that will need doing and to seek out a reported cracked tree that might require work.
There were chiffchaff singing and a couple of blackcap and the wild daffodil and lesser celandine along the Dockens Water were putting on a good show. A few brimstone, a peacock and even a speckled wood were enjoying the warm sunshine.
The speckled wood was my first spring butterfly, by which I mean the first of the species that emerge from the pupa in spring as opposed to the brimstone, peacock and the like that hibernate over winter as adult butterflies.
Towards the Lapwing hide we saw both grass snake and adder, also soaking up the sunshine. One sign of spring that we did not see in this area was the seasonal path that runs north to Mockbeggar Lane. This is indicated on our leaflets and elsewhere as being open from April 1st to 30th September, however it was not open today. This area is no longer part of the nature reserve and is now within Somerley Estate who manage the path. If it opens I will let you know.
Other birds we saw today included 2 red kite, at least 3 little ringed plover, good numbers of shoveler, on Ibsley Water I counted 179 that I could see from Tern hide, but later I understand 205 were seen. There are still some winter birds around though, with a group of wigeon grazing the eastern shore, until flushed by a wandering visitor and at least 13 goldeneye, including 3 adult drakes. The Slavonian grebe was reported again and is now starting to get some breeding plumage. Several lapwing are taking up territory and I saw a couple starting to make nest scrapes.
Thank you for mentioning the permitted path bit. Not sure if you have contacted Sommerley. Have forwarded your note, plusexplanation to the local council’s footpath rep too
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Excellent news! How is it you regularly see the snakes “sunning themselves” and yet, quiet as I am, I have never seen one!
Where can we see the snakes now the corrugated iron seems to have gone, or has it just been moved?
I was looking for the Slavonian grebe (again) from the Tern hide on Good Friday, over to the far left where you had indicated, but I think what I was eagerly watching was probably a Little grebe – hard to tell in the bad light.
We took away the corrugated iron sheets as, unfortunately, people were lifting them and upon seeing a snake or mouse underneath, dropping the sheet! This resulted in a few casualties, so we felt we had to remove them for the sake of the wildlife. We do undertake organised surveys of the reptiles using “felts” or small onduline sheets, but we ask people not to lift these as this disturbs the snakes and means that the surveys become unrepresentative. I see the snakes I find basking beside the paths, if you look on the sunny side, in places out of the wind they are quiet widespread. You still need some luck and it helps if nobody has walked that way for ten minutes or so beforehand.