Despite the warm weather last week, we've been met with a cold snap reminiscent of late Winter. Cold winds, rain, and even the occasional dashing of snow.
The first Sand Martins of the year were spotted on Tuesday (29/03) when a group of 4 hurtled over the top of the reserve team as we were conducting a survey out on the Eastern Scrape, with the birds crossing and looping over each other mid-flight as they made their way Eastward.
They're smaller than House Martins, Swallows, and Swifts, and fly with a quick wing beat rather than gliding like a House Martin would. They're a dusty brown colour and have a little brown band across their upper chest, and a small forked tail.
These birds, like the others listed above, will have come from warm parts of Africa and will depart from here when the Winter rolls back around. In the meantime, these birds will be looking for places to nest in the side of banks and cliffs where they create small holes and burrows to live in. Usually these are created near bodies of water for them to hunt on.
We have artificial sand martin banks located in the Freshwater lagoon and these give the Sand Martins a prime nesting spot, where they can bring up their young and hunt over the lagoon for insects.
The pair of Great Crested Grebe have now returned to the Deep Water Lake, catching up where they'd left off. The pair formed a few weeks ago, but then disappeared after courting and nest building. We were saddened to see they'd gone as we were unsure if they were going to return again, but to our surprise and delight they are back to being active on the outside of the Island. We're keeping an eye out to see how their season is going, and keeping our fingers crossed for a successful year for them.
The Otter's have been active again on the reserve, this time they were visible from the screens overlooking the Deep Water Lake from the centre path. On Wednesday morning we were greeted by a singular otter drifting down the banks of the island, diving and catching fish. The wind was rather high which helped to camouflage our scent to the Otter, but regardless the screen provided ample cover so the Otter felt safe enough to stay for around 10 minutes before slinking and diving it's way Eastward.
On the Deep Water Lake we spotted a lone Ruff amongst the Black-tailed Godwit which really emphasises the importance of having a longer look at some of the flocks of Godwit out on the reserve. Greenshank, Redshank, and Ruff have all been spotted this week but have been hidden amongst the Godwit's density, so be sure to spend some time picking the odd ones out.
From the central path facing towards the Southern end of the reserve we heard and spotted a lone Willow Tit making its way Westwards through the tops of the trees. It was singing loud and clear and calling with a harsh and strong "chrr chrr" sound. They're rather secretive birds often stopping calling once you try to get close, so they do need their space so as to not get too frightened. It's truly fantastic to have a species like this out on the reserve, which is unfortunately on the decline nationally, giving us a special responsibility here at Llanelli.
Other highlights include 4 Pintail this morning (02/04), Red Kites, 6 Spoonbill, and plenty of other waterfowl.