Changes in wildlife habits at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve signal spring is here

Ann Miles took this photograph of a pair of Great Crested Grebes at Paxton Pits.

Ann Miles took this photograph of a pair of Great Crested Grebes at Paxton Pits. - Credit: ANN MILES

As the weather starts to warm in March, it makes wildlife restless and encourages them to breed or move on. During a windy walk around the Paxton Pits lakes to count the ducks for the final time this winter, it was good to see these changes in action.

We took the route up to Boughton Lodge through the small poplar plantation. There were at least 18 nests up high in the trees with the rooks cawing to each other and a couple of green sandpipers were on the mud in the pit next to them.

Friends of Paxton Pits

Friends of Paxton Pits - Credit: Friends of Paxton Pits

When the winds are right, the sandpipers will be moving onto their breeding grounds on mainland northern Europe. There are still Gosanders to be seen.  They, too, will be moving on to northern fast flowing streams and brooks. The little Grebe, however, stay and breed and were making nests in the reeds. Their bigger and, should I say prettier cousins, the Great Crested Grebe, are now pairing up and photographer, Ann Miles, took this lovely photo of a pair practising their courtship weed dance on the Heronry lakes.

We seem to have a pair of Egyptian Geese that have been seen regularly, as well as the usual Canada and Greylag Geese. However, there have been two other species that have been visiting, white-fronted and barnacle. Foraging here before making their long trip to their breeding grounds.

There have been several reports of Kingfishers, down at the river viewpoint and also near the burnt down kingfisher hide. They have bred nearby in both places in recent years.  

A little bit of sunshine and the butterflies and bees appear. There were lots of reports of the brightly coloured yellow Brimstone, a couple of weeks ago and the buff-tailed bumble queens looking for nest sites.  They are like us humans; they like it warmer than 10 degrees centigrade. 

A walk around the Hayling lake and you could see the holes and little piles of soil where the male solitary mining bees have emerged. Probably the Tawny mining bee. One of our earliest.  The males then wait around for the females to emerge. Of the 267 species of bee in the UK, we have 59 known species here at Paxton Pits, including the bigger bumble bees.

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