to Look For in Spring
||As the days
get longer and the temperatures start to rise most animals naturally
think of sex. If you’re not in the right place you could
miss out! The further you’ve got to go, the earlier you’d
better leave for your breeding grounds. Among our winter visitors,
the golden eye is one of the earliest ducks to leave, in early
March. Numbers of wigeon, pochard, teal and shoveller all decline
steadily throughout April as they head off to their summer quarters.
On the other hand we start to welcome birds from the south as
they start to look for breeding territories around the reservoir.
Amongst the earliest to arrive are the chiffchaffs. These can
be heard and seen in the woodland areas and in the willow margins.
Over the water sand martins can frequently be spotted as they
feast on the abundant insect life and replenish their energy
levels after a long haul flight.
of the warblers arrive during April and the dawn chorus increases
in intensity on an almost daily basis. Alton Water has become
a favourite destination for organised dawn chorus events. These
opportunities are promoted by the exceptionally large numbers
of nightingales fighting for territory. If you’ve never
heard this wonderful songster take time to walk between Larchwood
hide and the ponds during a warm evening in early May. You’re
sure not to be disappointed.
Some of the noisiest
birds to arrive in April are the terns. They make a beeline
for the rafts and may have to fight with the geese, oyster
catchers and plovers for a suitable patch of shingle on which
to lay their eggs.
||We are especially
keen to spot barn owls as they also are looking for suitable
breeding sites. We were lucky enough to have a successful
pair raise three chicks in 2004 and we very much hope that
they will once again find the nest boxes that we have erected
a suitable site to raise a family.
May sees the arrivals of the last of the summer breeders and
these individuals will have to get a move on as they usually
are the first to disappear as soon as the weather gets a little
bit chilly. Spotted flycatchers, turtle doves and swifts all
fall into this category.