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March 2008

1st - Winter thrushes in the fields this morning, perhaps the beginning of the usual increase in late winter as they prepare to head back to Europe.
Overnight was very windy, gusting to 52 mph, but no damage to report.

2nd, Brattwood & Givendale - A pleasant early spring walk in this lovely area on the edge of the Wolds. A few Primroses and Violets were out in flower in sunny spots in the low woods, but none were out yet in the high wood. Dog’s Mercury beginning to carpet the north end of the wood and Elder is now leafing. On the way back we stopped off at the little hamlet of Givendale to see the spring flowers in the churchyard which looked lovely in the spring sunshine. Aconite’s, and Snowdrop’s dominating, with a few Celandine’s here and there.

3rd - Leaves unfurling on the Crab Apple and budburst now apparent on the garden Hawthorn tree.

4th - A female Bullfinch was seen at the feeding station this morning, the first time one has ever visited the feeders. Also in the garden, and indeed around other local gardens, Forsythia is now flowering, and in our beds the Hyacinth’s are starting to bloom, releasing there sweet perfume.

5th, North Cave Wetlands - A pleasant mornings birding on a bright early spring day. The Ringed Plovers have now returned to the reserve, with at least three seen. Out in the western fields there were lots of finches, buntings, sparrows, starlings, doves, thrushes, & Lapwings, an impressive diversity of species all within one field. Amongst them were Fieldfare’s and Stock doves. The spring build up of Shelducks seems to have begun and most of the common wildfowl were to be seen. A pair of Snipe seen, and amongst the Redshanks there was one with a ring. A Curlew was also heard in the area. All in all a very good morning, with 49 species recorded.

9th - A few Honey Bee’s about today, on what was a sunny and mild day.

10th - Pressure fell to 964 mbar today, a new record low on my records. Indeed it was an unsettled day with periods of heavy rain and blustery winds.

11th - Frog’s on the move, with quite a few squashed one’s noted along Long Lane this morning, particularly around Keldmarsh.

12th - Flocks of winter thrushes still in the fields.

14th - A Comma butterfly was seen in the garden today, the first butterfly I’ve seen this year, drawn out by the sunny and mild weather.

15th - The Great spotted Woodpecker was drumming at the top of St. Giles Croft today, though the day was infact rather grey and dreich.

16th, Nunburnholmewold - A pleasant mornings walk on the edge of the Wolds. At the dewpond at the top of the wood frogspawn can now be seen, and Hares were observed in good numbers in the local fields.

17th - Leaves coming out on the towns Horse Chestnut’s now. In the garden a cock Pheasant was seen for a time.

18th, Caerlaverock - Travelled up to south west Scotland today to visit the WWT reserve at Caerlaverock, on the Solway Firth, near Dumfries. This proved to be a fantastic reserve, with plenty to see, fairly quiet, and still a bit rustic. Very well managed and the reserve and all the hides were very clean and well maintained. Many of the hides were of cavernous proportions, more akin to some sort of military structure, but despite that they somehow didn‘t look out of place, and melded into the landscape. However it was the birds we came to see, and the famous Barnacle Geese were indeed seen in good numbers. We were able to watch them feeding at a decent distance, and later on we watched them all take to the wing and move to the other side of the reserve, where they assembled into a gaggle of well over a thousand.

The spectacle there was further enhanced by a decent flock of Golden Plovers mixed in amongst them, and further species seen amongst the throng included a lone Dunlin, and a solitary Pink footed Goose. A small number of Whopper Swans were seen in another part of the reserve, many of them just a few metres away from the hide, and most of the other common wildfowl were seen around the reserve at various points. Quite a few waders were about too, with nine species represented, including Curlews, Godwits, Oystercatchers, & a single Ruff. Also seen around the reserve were a few Roe deer, and there were also quite a few Buzzards seen hunting in the general area, a bird of prey which is very abundant in this part of the world. After concluding our very enjoyable afternoon’s birding we headed to Dumfries  , where we stayed overnight.

19th, Leighton Moss - After staying the night in Dumfries we headed down to Leighton Moss in north Lancashire, a reserve we had visited once before and had impressed us with its range of habitats. Highlights of the day included a Little Egret, a species I wouldn’t have expected this far north in mid March, Water Rails were also heard out in the vast reedbeds, Woodpeckers were drumming in the woods, and three Red deer were seen around the reserve, once at quite close range. A Goldeneye was another welcome sighting, a species which has been quite scarce in East Yorkshire this winter with just the occasional sporadic sightings. Indeed Wildfowl were very well represented around the reserve, with twelve species recorded in total. 16 species of passerine recorded, including Redwings, and Goldcrests. Raptors too were seen well, with Sparrowhawks, Kestrels, & Buzzards. A total of fifty species were recorded around the reserve, and had we visited the Morecambe Bay part of the reserve no doubt the species count would had been even greater. A most interesting trip to this vast reserve on a pleasant and sunny early spring day.

From here we journeyed back home through the Dales, where heather burning was seen on some of the moor tops, especially between Skipton and Harrogate. Indeed visibility was very good today, and from above Harrogate you could see over the entire of the Vale, with the White Horse on Sutton bank, and the Wolds ridge clearly obvious in the distance. A beautiful journey home, added to by a fantastic evening sky as we passed through the vast fields of the Vale of York.

21st - Lapwing’s calling out in the fields this morning, and a few Skylark’s were in song too. Still some winter thrushes around too, largely around Black House Farm.

23rd - Snow last night and in the early morning giving a two inch covering on this Easter morning. Snow thawing by early afternoon though, as the post spring equinox sun soon melted it.

North Cave Wetlands - A mornings birding on a snowy Easter day at our local reserve. 2 to 3 inches of lying snow when we arrived, though with the post equinox sun much of it had thawed by the time we left around noon. The birds were very active this morning infact, and the Green Woodpecker showed itself well and was heard to ‘yaffle’ on a number of occasions. Indeed there was probably two but I wasn’t able to confirm this for sure. A Red Kite was also seen today, and on the waters edge there was a Grey Wagtail, two new species for my personal North Cave List. Other notes included a good number of Oystercatchers, these particularly active and noisy today, thirty or so Shelducks, Snipe, Ringed Plovers, and a female Goosander. A lovely and most productive morning, with 49 species seen in total.

26th - The dawn chorus was wonderful this morning as it really starts to get going. In the afternoon I found a broken thrush egg under the Hawthorn.

27th - A good number of Bee’s & Hoverflies on the wing today on a bright and pleasant day, though it was quite breezy. The Woodpecker was also heard drumming.

29th, Dalby Forest - Went on another cycle with Jenny and Andy. On the route I heard at least six Chiffchaffs, the first of the year for me. Also spotted a Jay, and the Grey Wagtail was again hanging around the visitor centre. A ringed Chaffinch was also picking up crumbs in the same area.

30th - A warm, sunny, and most pleasant day, with a Comma butterfly seen sunning itself on the Yews during the afternoon (see 14th March).

Watton Reserve & Carrs - The lagoons at this little reserve were almost deserted this morning, but despite that I did manage to record 40 species in the area around the reserve, and at Wilfholme. A male Goldeneye was in the River Hull at the Pumping Station, and also seen in the river and drains were Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, & Mallard, as well as a briefly seen Kingfisher. In the hedges and out on Watton carrs their were winter thrushes, Lapwings, Oystercatchers, Curlews, Skylarks, & Meadow Pipits, with one Pipit seen displaying, the first I’ve seen doing so this year. A nice quiet morning.

31st - The Skylark’s & Yellowhammer’s singing beautifully this morning out in the fields, on what was a gorgeous spring dawn with a slight mist and a touch of ground frost. A few Fieldfare’s also heard. At home a Mute Swan flew over the house, heading westwards at 8 am, and during the afternoon, which was warm and sunny, Peacock & Comma butterflies were seen on the wing.

North Cliffe Wood & North Cave Wetlands - Went for a most pleasant walk at North Cliffe Wood this afternoon, on a very mild and sunny day. Up to four Chiffchaffs were heard, the first I’ve heard in the East Riding this year, and a Fieldfare was also seen singing, an unusual sound to hear in England. The warm sun encouraged a few butterflies to come out, with Comma, Peacock, & Small Tortoiseshells seen, as well as a few day flying moths. We also met a gentleman whom was listening out for Woodlarks, a species which do very occasionally frequent the small area of heath on the south of the reserve. Hopefully in years to come they may even breed here.

After our walk around the wood we went down to briefly visit North Cave, where spring seems to be really motoring on now. Up to fifteen Avocet’s were seen, and the Sand Martins have also returned. Additionally four Ringed Plovers were noted, and the female Goosander is still there. A fine afternoon out in the field.

Monthly Review
Insects continued to appear this month, with the first butterflies seen on the wing, and plants are greening and flowering in ever increasing diversity. Winter thrushes still about but the dawn chorus is now well under way, and a thrush egg was found towards the end of the month. The weather likewise was changeable with milder and colder spells, with some snow around Easter. It was also a blustery month with a number of quite windy days, particularly in the first half, and the rainfall total finished well above the long term average.