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Spring Diary 2015

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In agricultural and botanical terms spring seemed to arrive late this year or as one grassland expert suggested to me, 2015 was a normal spring; we have just got used to spring arriving early in recent years.

I did not note snowdrops in bloom in our garden until the 21st of January when last year they were blooming at Christmas, but Song Thrushes sang sporadically from mid December but only really in earnest by February when I also heard first Chaffinch song of the year on the 6th which is about the same as previous years.


The slow arrival of spring seemed to prolong the flowering period of some plants allowing us more time to enjoy their transient beauty. The first Lesser Celandine flowered in my garden on February 16 and by March the 12th they were joined in flower by a profusion of Primroses and Coltsfoot in our local wood; all important sources of nectar for early pollinating insects. By April 10 the first flowers of Bluebells, Selfheal and Cowslips had appeared.


The first butterfly on the wing was a Small Tortoiseshell on the 9th February no doubt disturbed too early from hibernation. The next Butterfly to appear was a Brimstone but not until the 20th of March in my garden. This proved to be the first of many, in fact it is the best spring I can remember for Brimstones and as I write in late April there are still many on the wing.

Brimstone on Primrose

There seemed to be fewer frogs visiting my ponds this spring with a maximum count of only nine but they spawned on March 28 and there are now a lot of tadpoles. Smooth Newts appeared in the middle of March but it is always difficult to get an idea about how many there are.

Marsh Tit

Judging by the numbers of tits, nuthatches and goldcrests roaming the woods during the winter months these species enjoyed a productive breeding season in 2014. Marsh Tits were particularly numerous in our local woodlands and I had hoped that the number of pairs that stayed to breed would have been higher. In Lincolnshire the Marsh Tit is more or less confined to the south west corner of the county.

The very similar Willow Tit was fairly numerous in this area during the 1980's but suffered a serious decline after that. Last spring I found a pair in my local wood but found none in the mixed flocks this winter and I have failed to locate any potential breeding pairs this spring. Willow Tits seem to replace Marsh Tits in central and northern parts of the county, but here too they are in serious decline.

In a previous edition of Country Eye I mentioned that Frampton Marsh is now the RSPB's top reserve for waders. This is mainly due to the creation of extensive scrapes but another conservation success is the careful management of the "wet grasslands".


Last winter the wet grassland hosted thousands of Golden Plover, large numbers of Dunlin, Lapwings, Redshank, Curlew and one of my favourites the Ruff. Certainly over one hundred Ruff wintered here and now their dull winter plumage is being replaced with a variety of colours ensuring no two birds look the same.

Wildfowl also love the wet grassland and several species of duck including hundreds of Wigeon grazed the area along with Brent, Canada and Greylag Geese. Often smaller numbers of other geese such as Pink- footed Geese and White-fronted geese could also be found.

Now there are still plenty of Ruff feeding before their departure to Northern Scandinavia and Siberia and the air is alive with the calls of displaying Lapwings and Redshank. Ruff have occasionally bred in the UK in the past and you never know some might decide to stay on at Frampton!


Ian Misselbrook
April 2015


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