Links | Contact Us | Accessibility | About Us   

Spring Diary 2022

(Click on the images for a larger picture.
If you are viewing Country Eye on a Smartphone or Tablet the page layout may not be as intended, please see Accessibility . )

Black Redstart, Sleaford

We seem to have experienced two springs this year. The first occurred in March with temperatures in some parts of the UK exceeding 20 degrees! This enabled some migrants to arrive very early. I saw 2 Swallows at Willow Tree Fen nature reserve in south Lincolnshire on March 30th. Other notable early arrivals were a Black Redstart inland at Sleaford and singing Blackcaps on March 24th.The tables then turned and on April 1st we awoke to a covering of snow. Sharp frosts continued until the middle of the month but plenty of sunshine enabled temperatures to rise during the day. Spring had properly arrived by Easter..


Over the Easter weekend I located 7 species of newly arrived warblers and the first Nightingales of the year. I also visited a local nature reserve where colonies of one of my favourite spring flowers were in bloom. The Pasqueflower only blooms for a short period and here in Lincolnshire it is a rare plant, only occurring in shallow calcareous soils. The site where I photographed this beautiful plant also supported a profusion of the much more common and familiar Cowslips.

This site hosts a profusion of lime loving flowers from early spring right through the summer. Where you find floristically rich grassland you also discover a numerous and diverse invertebrate fauna. On the day of my visit beeflies were common as were buff-tailed bumblebees, but the star attraction was a stunning Green Hairstreak butterfly.

Green Hairstreak butterfly

Resident male crane chasing
off an intruder

Since I retired, back in the summer of 2020, I have kept myself busy doing natural history surveys and voluntary wardening for both the RSPB ad the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. These activities were constrained by the various Covid restrictions but currently amount to about 10 days per month. My work at the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust this year is mainly confined to welcoming people to the observation point at Willow Tree Fen and showing them the breeding cranes; the first in Lincolnshire for 400 years, as well as all the other wildlife on this precious nature reserve. The cranes first nested successfully in 2020 fledging one chick but sadly, they lost the two chicks in 2021 during the awful weather in May. This spring they returned very early and spent much of the first few weeks chasing off visiting cranes that clearly found the habitat to their liking. The resident pair seemed to tolerate one immature crane more than others and speculation is that it might be the young bird reared in 2020 returning to its place of birth. The photo shows the resident male chasing off an intruder.

In addition to cranes, visitors during the winter and early spring enjoyed hundreds of ducks of seven species and a host of birds of prey including wintering Hen Harriers, resident Marsh Harriers, Buzzards, Red Kites and Peregrines.

White-tailed Lapwing

My other "job" is as a roving bird guide at the RSPB's fabulous coastal reserve of Frampton Marsh which has deservedly earned many paragraphs in previous editions of Country Eye. The star attraction here from late winter to early spring was a White-tailed Lapwing, a very scarce visitor from Iraq. Well off course, this bird made its UK arrival in Kent before moving north to Blacktoft Sands and eventually on to Frampton.

Garganey Drake and two ducks

Less rare, but by no means common is the Garganey, a small duck the size of a Teal, which unlike the thousands of ducks that winter in the British Isles comes here to nest in the summer. They can be looked for from March with arrivals peaking by the end of that month or early April. I managed to see 5 Garganey at Frampton Marsh and we are all hoping that some will stay and breed.


My final bird to feature in this edition is not confined to nature reserves but should be sought after along any stream with vertical banks to nest in and a supply of small fish close by.

The mild winter has favoured the colourful Kingfisher and I photographed this individual within a few hundred metres of a busy town centre!

Ian Misselbrook
April 2022


© All Images are the copyright of Ian Misselbrook. For further information, please

Some text may be lost if you are viewing with a low screen resolution - click here for more info