An early walk often pays dividend.  The bird song is often at its best, and this time of year is full of anticipation of the newly arrived migrants you might hear. Indeed, our first Paxton Pits breeding bird survey on 4th April did just that and showed up several of these migrants, willow warbler, garden warbler, sedge warbler, swallows and even a distant nightingale. Another early walk 10 days later, on a glorious sunny if somewhat chilly morning, with a flask of coffee and a second breakfast, we took the path to Diddington. The birds were in full song and there were several great spotted woodpeckers drumming. One had found a particularly good tree to drum. We heard our first garden warbler with its rich fluty song, some people liken it to a pebble rolling downhill that doesn’t stop.

Some of our resident birds have been breeding for a while and the young herons (did you know that they are called branchers) and young cormorants are almost the size of the adults now.  Swans are on their nests. I seem to have seen more this year. The lakes have been emptying of ducks as they go north to breed. Tufted ducks are in good numbers and will stay around.

A coffee stop overlooking one of the lakes and there are still a few goldeneye around, which will be moving on soon. Swallows, sand martins and the black headed gulls have been enjoying the abundance of flying insects over the lakes. One reason why the migrants arrive when they do, when there is a good food source.

Tawny Mining Bee photograph by Jim Stephenson

Walking on, we saw 3 fieldfares, which should have moved north by the end of the month and a marsh harrier passing over.

As the day warmed up there seemed to be peacock butterflies all over the blackberry bushes.  It was good to see them again after they first emerged before this last cold snap.

Other insects have been emerging like the mining bees, such as the Tawny mining bees. You can see these solitary bees, if you look to the right of the “bus stop” overlooking Heronry Lake, coming out of the small holes which are surrounded by a mound of earth. One of the many important pollinators.

Arriving back at the Heronry lakes and there were our first common terns of the year. A treat at the end of a good walk.

If you see any wildlife you would like to report, please let us know at . We are particularly interested in amphibian and grass snake sightings.

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