Blue skies, a warm sun and rising temperatures gave it a Spring-like feel as I walked round the reserve this morning. The reserve still had the typical end of winter bare look about it as we wait for the grass to begin growing again and turn green rather than the yellow that it currently is. The drought-stricken ditches are little more than shallow splashes between the fields, promising little by way of drinking water for the livestock this summer, but on such a beautiful morning as this was the birds at least were ignoring such shortcomings.
Skylarks were doing what they do best and filling the reserve with their beautiful song from somewhere up in the sky and some pairs of Lapwings had broken away from the main flock and were carrying out several display flights over the grazing marsh. The morning had that "feel" about it, when you can sense that things are about to happen, that Spring really is just around the corner and first Wheatears might only be a fortnight away. It lit up the old Forge Cottage in the sunlight, under the blue skies.
Part of the Greylag Geese flock allowed me to pass very close and never did take flight, they've become very trusting over the years and aren't what you could truly call, wild geese, other than the fact that they fly freely.
I had a good look round the ditches and along the Delph Fleet this morning in the hope of bringing to an end a mystery that has plagued us this winter, I was hoping to find a Coot. Since September, this bird, as much a part of the reserve as the grass and the reeds, has disappeared, we haven't seen any. Its really strange, as well as breeding in good numbers every year on the reserve, its numbers in winter normally swell to around a hundred or so. Despite the fact that many of the ditches have hardly any water in them, the Delph Fleet alongside the seawall is still reasonably OK and so the disappearance can't be blamed on the drought, it simply remains a mystery. The Delph also came up trumps this morning when I recorded two pairs of Gadwall and a pair of Tufted Duck in there. Couple that with 30 Mallard, 20 Teal and 8 Wigeon also seen around the reserve and we were getting into heady stuff as far as wildfowl counts go this winter. Until the last couple of dry winters its been unheard of not to get average counts of around 800-1,000 Wigeon each winter.
And just to rub in the fact that Spring is getting close, as I write this I'm watching, with little joy, a pair of Magpies collecting twigs from my hedge as they begin nest building in a neighbour's garden.
And to finish, yet another photo of Midge and Ellie as they inspect another empty rabbit warren, Ellie is still not convinced that these brown, furry things actually exist, despite what Midge tells her.