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Nature Notes Article - March 2017

This month Andy describes rainfall amounts, his visit to Burton Mere Wetland Reserve and the birds that herald the arrival of Spring.

With just 8 days to go until the end of February it is looking as though we in this local area shall have another very dry month this year. In recent years this pattern has occurred with late January, February and the early March having below average rainfall. This is most noticeable in the garden, as many shrubs and perennial plants are showing little signs of new growth. I expect that as soon as the rain comes plant growth will be rapid and many of the spring wild flowers will soon be in bloom. At the end of my notes in the February magazine I mentioned the fact that I had not seen any of the winter thrushes. They did arrive, feeding on the front field, but for a very short period of three days before moving on.

The Treecreeper is a very shy bird and because of its unique feeding method it is often overlooked. It starts at the bottom of one tree trunk and climbing upwards feeds on the way, at the top of the tree it flies down to the bottom of the next tree and starts again.  I was lucky to see one briefly last Sunday in the oak tree at the back of Wood Farm.

The pair of Stock Doves have returned, hopefully to take up residency and breed in the Tawny Owl box (sadly we have no Tawny Owls close by). The Stock Doves leave the farm during the winter months to form large flocks feeding out on the Mersey marshes and roost communally at night. I have a soft spot for these birds and am very pleased to see them again.

On a recent visit to the Burton Mere Wetland Reserve we had a very enjoyable day bird watching. The first 6 Avocets have returned from their wintering estuaries further south, also 8 species of ducks, 6 sp. of waders, 4sp. of Geese, Little Grebe along with both Whooper and Mute Swans were seen. A flock of several hundred Lapwing is worth mentioning as it is becoming a rare sight as their numbers decline. We also had several very good views of a female Marsh Harrier. If you consult any Bird Field Guide published a decade ago, for information on the Marsh Harrier you will find it says these birds are summer migrants. Whether it is the effect of global warming but in recent years more Marsh Harriers are overwintering on both the R. Dee and the R. Mersey marshes and the adjoining land.

Over the past few days I have heard both Song and Mistle Thrushes, Robin and Dunnock singing. This can only mean Spring is close by, let us enjoy the natural sights and sounds of the season.

Andy Ankers

Written on 2nd Mar 2017

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