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Late Spring Diary 2024

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Lincolnshire, where I live is normally one of the driest counties in the UK, but for the last 18 months we have endured relentless rain. The impact on agriculture has been nothing short of devastating, with autumn sown crops such as winter wheat and many vegetables unsown and crops of vegetable and potatoes under water and rotting in the fields.

In late April the winds changed to northerlies which held back the arrival of some migrant birds. Early migrants such as Sand Martins arrived on time. I saw some prospecting an artificial nest site on a local nature reserve on March 18. I held off doing my early visit for The British Trust for Ornithology's breeding bird survey until April 27, but even then few summer migrants were on territory.

Yellow Wagtail

There was a big fall of hirundines on April 25 when I counted over 300 Swallows, 50 House Martins and 30 Sand Martins as well as a handful of Swifts at the RSPB's Frampton Marsh nature reserve. Good numbers of Yellow Wagtails and White Wagtails ; the continental race of our Pied Wagtails were also on show.

Bonaparte's Gull

Frampton Marsh hosted a succession of rarities throughout the spring. For me April 11 was a red letter day, as I saw and photographed my first UK Bonaparte's Gull which was accompanied by other rare gulls, including 2 Little Gulls and several Mediterranean Gulls as well as a Black Tern.

Black Tern

We speculated that a female Black-winged Stilt, also present, might well have been one of the progeny of the two pairs that nested on the reserve last year. The Lesser Yellowlegs, an American wader that arrived last autumn, remains at Frampton as I write in mid-May.

Lesser Yellowleg

Brimstone butterfly

The mild and wet winter nearly caught me out as many of the spring flowers bloomed earlier than usual. I used to associate bluebells with the month of May, but by the end of April they were already past their best. As well as making a magnificent display in our woodlands, bluebells provide a valuable source of nectar for insects including bees and a variety of spring butterflies. I photographed Brimstones and Green-veined White butterflies taking nectar from bluebells on one of the warmer drier days in late April.

Green-veined White butterfly


Early Purple Orchids, Cowslips and the beautiful Pasqueflowers bloomed a little earlier than usual and seemed to be racing to remain head and shoulders above the fast growing grasses, in order to be pollinated by insects.


Some of our predatory mammals had a hard time over winter and during the early spring when many of their hunting grounds were flooded and presumably the small mammals; mice and voles, were in short supply. However, this resulted in better chances of seeing foxes and weasels during daytime when they probably had hungry cubs and kits to feed.



Ian Misselbrook
May 2024


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