We are all in a time of change and that includes our wildlife. March is a time that as the weather warms, it makes them restless and encourages them to breed or move on. A windy walk around the Paxton Pits lakes in the recent days to count the duck for the final time this winter and it was good to see these changes in action. We took the route up to Boughton Lodge through the small poplar plantation. There were at least 18 nests up high in the tree with the rooks cawing to each other and a couple of green sandpipers were on the mud in the pit next to them. When the winds are right, the sandpipers will be moving onto their breeding grounds on mainland northern Europe. There are still goosanders also to be seen.  They, too, will be moving on to northern fast flowing streams and brooks. The little grebe, however, stay and breed and were making a nest in the reeds. Their bigger and should I say prettier cousins, the great crested grebe, are now pairing up and photographer, Ann Miles, took this lovely photo of a pair practising their courtship weed dance on the Heronry lakes.

Geese are a bird that many do not look at closely. We seem to have a pair of Egyptian geese that have been seen regularly, as well as the usual Canada and greylag geese. However, there have been 2 other species that have been visiting, white-fronted and barnacle. Foraging here before making their long trip to their breeding grounds.

The white blossom is looking good on the Reserve now. At the bottom of the Visitor centre meadow is a large Bullace, a variety of plum tree, which bears fruit similar to a damson, but rounder. Most of the rest of the blossom is blackthorn, which bears sloes. The blossom comes out before the leaves. The water is remaining on the lower meadow as the water table is still high. Many ducks, such as shovelers have been enjoying the shallow water for feeding.

There have been several reports of kingfishers, down at the river viewpoint and also near the burnt down kingfisher hide. They have bred nearby in both places in recent years.  Let’s hope they manage it again this year.

A little bit of sunshine and the butterflies and bees appear. There were lots of reports of the brightly coloured yellow Brimstone, a couple of weeks ago and the buff-tailed bumble queens looking for nest sites.  Then it went cooler again and so did the reports.  They are like us humans; they like it warmer than 10 degrees centigrade!  In our dragonfly and butterfly surveys, we don’t start them until 10.30 a.m. as they are late risers as they wait for the air to warm. A walk around in the last few days by Hayling lake and you could see the holes & little piles of soil where the male solitary mining bees have emerged. Probably the Tawny mining bee. One of our earliest.  The males then wait around for the females to emerge. Of the 267 species of bee in the UK, we have 59 known species here at Paxton Pits, including the bigger bumble bees.

Another sort of bee we have on the Pits are bee orchids. One of our volunteers interested in orchids has been counting the wintergreen leaves of our bee orchids and has counted over 200 separate plants. It will be interesting how many flowers we have, as I am sure many will rot off with the winter wet and some will be nibbled by muntjacs.

Now what will be our 1st bird migrant? It was good to hear the chiffchaff in full song; they have quite likely overwintered here. I thought I heard a blackcap tuning up and then it stopped. This also could be one that has overwintered.  In the next couple of weeks or so there should be more and they should be singing properly. Then what will be next? Exciting times.

It is always good to hear about your sightings.  Please let us know on friendsofpaxtonpits@hotmail.com

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