April started with warm temperatures but northerly winds soon set in and brought cool air and very little rainfall. This resulted in our wetlands experiencing different weather to recent springs, with bird migration not quite as early as it would have been in warm southerly winds.
However, even in cooler temperatures, spring was still blossoming all around us, new life emerging and summer migrants gracing our shores. Join us as we give a warm welcome to all…
We saw catkins and blossom coming out at Caerlaverock.
And spring migrants beginning to arrive.
Summer migrants have arrived on the reserve including a sand martin, swallows and wheatears. A pair of linnets have been spotted near reedbed. Butterflies can be seen around the reserve including small tortoiseshell, brimstone & peacocks. Bookings open tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/wlfKGTF52j— WWT Martin Mere (@WWTMartinMere) April 5, 2021
With the increased sunshine, life stirred from its winter slumber; these two great white egret certainly were appreciative.
A cold morning, the three Great White Egrets were hunched in a trio, having a warm up in the sun before heading off to feed for the day. pic.twitter.com/Bl2G63mbji— Slimbridge Sightings (@slimbridge_wild) April 4, 2021
The dry weather meant it was perfect conditions for a skylark dust-bath!
When you think no-one is watching and it's safe for a quick dust bath...— Slimbridge Sightings (@slimbridge_wild) April 4, 2021
Skylark, The Dumbles pic.twitter.com/kFyDRZqflP
Birds were on the move, with Slimbridge being visited by both spoonbill and osprey in the first week of the month.
Make way! The feeding technique of a Spoonbill might look quite menacing to a small duck. The drake Teal decides it's best to just get out of the way. pic.twitter.com/0LxVEC8FVj— Slimbridge Sightings (@slimbridge_wild) April 6, 2021
Today's highlights include this Osprey sat on a post on the Dumbles until it flew north shortly after 9am. At least one Spoonbill is still present and 12 Cattle Egret were in the roost. Site reopens 12th April, advance tickets only, book online https://t.co/ykGiGYxokK #GlosBirds pic.twitter.com/IsHN44DTnU— Slimbridge Sightings (@slimbridge_wild) April 7, 2021
By mid-April, our sites were open to the public once again and there was no shortage of young wildlife to spot.
Have you ever seen a duckling run that fast!?
Incredibly, Welney staff witnessed a pair of bittern mating – not many of us can say the same!
Record 📷 of bittern pair on the ground. Taken from one of our screens looking across the reserve. We haven't got much reedbed habitat as mostly we are wet grassland, but you never know 🤞@BBCSpringwatch pic.twitter.com/FDCXvVRdth— WWT Welney (@WWTWelney) April 21, 2021
The sunshine also brought out invertebrate life at Castle Espie.
The wonder of spring is everywhere - these toad tadpoles were spotted at Steart Marshes.
As key indicator species of a healthy ecosystem, was exciting to see these Toad Tadpoles in such high numbers. Enjoying the warmth and protection offered by the shallow edges of our freshwater ponds. @ARC_Bytes pic.twitter.com/GRFZiN6Ks6— WWT Steart Marshes (@WWTSteart) April 30, 2021
Migrant arrivals continued, with a garganey seen at Slimbridge...
Middle Point- Whimbrel commuting between Tack Piece and Goose House Ground + another on sands off the point, 5 male Wheatear on the Dumbles (three on the fence), Willow Warbler and Song Thrush in hedge + Reed Buntings, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits #GlosBirds pic.twitter.com/HGfQmR63dW— Slimbridge Sightings (@slimbridge_wild) April 20, 2021
April can bring some scarcer visitors to our wetlands, such as this common scoter at Martin Mere...
A common scoter was seen on Sunday (📸Paul Hill) as well as a tawny owl roosting in a tree. Barn owls & marsh harrier seen daily. Highlights from Breeding Birds Survey: wheatear, grasshopper warbler, willow warbler, chiffchaff, blackcap, skylark, stonechat https://t.co/pNEWu29eEA pic.twitter.com/RuyyfaAuHe— WWT Martin Mere (@WWTMartinMere) April 20, 2021
A spotted redshank at Welney...
Some fantastic birds passing through on migration at the moment spotted redshank and ruff on the reserve with swifts arriving for summer, elsewhere near the washes ring ouzel and little gull dropping in so definitely worth spending some time at your local wetland.— WWT Welney (@WWTWelney) April 28, 2021
📷 Clive Baker pic.twitter.com/YJsiuKyftw
And a bar-tailed godwit in the grounds at London.
Bar-tailed Godwit still showing well in world wetlands this morning. Common Sandpiper, Greenshank, 4 Redshank, 2 Oystercatcher & Yellow Wagtail also present on the wider reserve. @SurreyBirdNews #londonbirds pic.twitter.com/Pv5FjjUYCa— WWT London Wetland Centre (@WWTLondon) April 26, 2021
All of these species, in their summer plumage, will be en-route north to their breeding grounds.
Many of our more common migrants were now back on their breeding territory
Highlights so far this morning include:— WWT Welney (@WWTWelney) April 28, 2021
2 common tern near Lyle hide, cuckoo around main hide area, 2 common sandpiper along Hundred foot river, spotted redshank, marsh harriers at reedbed, house martins throughout reserve and 10 cranes flying N along washes 😁 #rbnNFK pic.twitter.com/KpkBupm3Pn
We've had our first common tern back on site this week - hooraahhh!!! These masters of the sky are fantastic to watch as they dive for food and scrap for space on our shingle islands. Let us know if you spot any around Wader Lake and the river Wear! pic.twitter.com/TS2YcSzs5s— WWT Washington (@WWTWashington) April 25, 2021
While over at Castle Espie, rather excitingly we could be looking at breeding Mediterranean gull and sandwich tern this year.
Last year we brought you exciting news a pair of Mediterranean gulls, a very rare visitor to these shores, had been spotted on the reserve mingling amongst visiting black-headed gulls! We're delighted to say it looks like they're back 🤩🙏 @belfastroadster @nibirds @BTO_NIreland pic.twitter.com/v3QoTu0NV0— WWT Castle Espie (@WWTCastleEspie) April 29, 2021
A pair of sandwich terns spotted over the weekend on the reserve appeared to be displaying some courtship rituals on the ground 😍 This includes stretching of the neck and bill upwards and the wings being held out from the body. Hopefully they stay and nest 🐣 🤞@belfastroadster pic.twitter.com/LGCGEhyJUj— WWT Castle Espie (@WWTCastleEspie) April 26, 2021
In May, we look forward to most of our migrants having arrived and begun breeding. There will of course be many more youngsters to see. And after the near-drought of April, May will of course see just a little more rain…
Experience our wonderful wetland wildlife this spring. You can book your ticket for your local centre here:Visit