Monday, 10 April 2017

March Highlights!

WeatherThe start of the month saw changeable weather, with wintry showers for some and mild weather for others. The mild weather continued, before turning briefly colder by the third week. Several dry, sunny days then followed, before turning wetter towards the end of the month.

Places Visited: Abberton/Mersea; Amwell; Cheshunt; Rye Meads.

Star Sightings of the Month:
Bird: Bittern
Mammal: Water Vole
Butterfly: Orange Tip
Insect: Bee-fly
Flower: Daffodils

I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good
Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice.

This month sees the customary migrant shift-change. There were plenty of comings and goings, with the winter birds heading off, being replaced with spring ones. However, there is always a small overlap which produces a few lean days.

On the plus side, the weather warmed up, giving us the hottest days of the year, so far. I might have to dig out my suntan cream soon. I might even be able to put my ‘magic scarf’ in storage!

It was a brilliant start to the month, at Rye Meads, with a spectacular sighting of a Bittern. RM continues to be the Reserve to beat, as the Bittern was seen again later in the month. Shelduck, Sparrowhawk, Oystercatcher, Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper and Kingfisher all gave very good views, over several visits.

Elsewhere, Amwell finally started to improve. There were the last showings of Goldeneye and the ever dwindling winter wildfowl. A few Red-legged Partridges were a surprise sighting. There were also Redshank, Coal Tit and Treecreeper on show. I stayed late one evening, for the Barn Owl. It flew across the Watchpoint, giving several of us a ghostly fly-past.

The one trip to Cheshunt produced a wonderful courtship display by the, now resident, pair of Great Crested Grebes. Nesting began soon afterwards. A pair of Egyptian Geese proved good value, allowing me to approach to within a few yards. Although an otherwise quiet visit, bird-wise, it was a very satisfying and relaxing day out.

The combined trip to Abberton/Mersea proved to be a little disappointing, mainly due to the weather, which was misty and foggy for most of the day. Carol had promised sunshine until at least midday. There was quite a strong, cold wind as well. And I hadn’t brought my magic scarf.

All the usual birds were about though, but special mentions go to Brent Goose, Goosander, Goldeneye, Grey Plover, Dunlin and Curlew. Unfortunately, most of them were quite distant and so I wasn’t able to take many photos.

On the Mammal front, sightings improved somewhat. The Bank Vole outside the James Hide, at Amwell, provided some great entertainment, while there were brilliant views of a Water Vole munching on bark outside the Ashby Hide, at Rye Meads. Fox and Muntjac both showed well, with one Fox being particularly accommodating at RM, disturbing the Bittern, which promptly landed quite close to the Hide I was in.

I was also delighted to see the first butterflies of the season appear. There were lots of Commas early on, followed by Brimstone, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell. I’m sure that, if the weather holds, more species will soon appear.

The reasonable weather also started to bring out the invertebrates. One of the first insects to reveal themselves are Bee-flies, with a few of them giving some particularly good views, posing nicely for the camera. Ladybirds, Bees and Hoverflies were also out in good numbers. There were millions of Midges at the Layer de la Haye Causeway!

Flowers were now starting to bloom again, thanks to the warm sunshine. The last of the Crocus and Snowdrops were replaced with Daffodils, Hawthorn, Lesser Celandine and Primrose. My botany lessons started again, with recognition of Pussy Willow.

All in all, another very good month. Quality and quantity, with Rye Meads taking the monthly honours again. Although, I have to say, there appears to be an increase in dog-walkers. And doggy-bags.

I’m always wary of March, as the migration season usually keeps sightings down. The twitchers love this month, though, with the winds bringing in rarities, which seems to greatly excite them. Not for me, I always yearn for April, when the main course starts. Roll on the Odonata season!

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge
faster than society gathers wisdom.Isaac Asimov

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