A spotlight on wetland wildlife - March 2021

March has been a real month of change, sometimes cold but often with a real sense of spring in the air. We have said ‘bon voyage’ to the last of our winter visitors and a brief ‘hello’ to those species just passing through, and finally a warm ‘welcome’ to the first of our summer migrants. In this month of change, you never know what might be around the corner…

A cold start to the month

Way back at the end of February, it certainly still felt like winter, with plenty of waterbirds on our reserves, some seen in this footage from Welney.

And these pintail were soaking up the early spring sunshine on the frosty mornings.

And even with the Bewick’s having already headed off on migration, there were plenty of waterbirds waiting for their breakfast at Slimbridge.

But some of our more resident species were thinking forward to their spring plans…

And soon enough, our winter migrants were starting to think about their imminent travels.

As the month ‘marched’ on, migration began with winter visitors heading north, using our wetlands as important resting sites…

These brent geese put in an appearance on the Severn estuary, on their way to breed along the arctic coasts of Russia.

And this pair of bean geese will be headed in a similar direction.

A pink-footed goose also turned up at Washington, most likely en-route to Iceland. Will the Mediterranean gulls stay to breed?

These whoopers dropped in to Caerlaverock, also Iceland-bound.

As are the Slimbridge black-tailed godwit flock, colouring-up before their departure.

And it’s not just birds that migrate; our amphibians need to move from their winter hide-outs back to their spawning ponds.

And then, excitingly, we began to see more southerly arrivals…

Fresh-plumaged spring wheatears start to become a little more likely to come across.

And some of our migrant waders are back on nesting sites at Welney.

And at Washington.

However, even towards the end of the month, some winter visitors were still hanging around – each bird does things differently, it seems!

Further signs of spring

Arundel had an inspection of their nest sites…will they breed this year?

The staff at Castle Espie got a special underwater viewing treat.

And Steart Marshes saw the first of the spring colour coming through.

We now look forward to the real spring-buzz of April, with more species starting to arrive and breed, young birds emerging, vegetation greening up and the first insects appearing on the wing.

See for yourself

We hope you will be able to experience some wetland wonders for yourself this spring. Find out about our plans for reopening:

Find out more