Most of the signs are that spring is on the way, with the number of wintering tufted ducks on Tonford Lake declining to seven on the 24th. Some birds do nest in Kent and the rest of the UK, but in winter their numbers increase about nine-fold as birds pour in across the North Sea to enjoy our milder winters. So it is only natural that at this time of year tufted ducks disappear from the lakes in the Stour valley as birds move north and east in preparation for the breeding season.

Much the same happens with snipe, numbers dwindling to just eight by the end of the month. A great spotted woodpecker was drumming on the 14th, so may choose to nest on the old embankment once again. A single great crested grebe, the first since last April, made an appearance on Tonford Lake mid-month, but whether that will translate into a breeding pair has yet to be seen. One or two little egrets have been present all month, probably a prelude to their moving to a heronry elsewhere in order to breed, and 30 black-headed gulls taking advantage of flooded fields on the 10th, all in various stages of regaining their chocolate hoods, will any day be heading off to the Thames Marshes to nest. The only other bird of note this month was a greenfinch, a very occasional visitor to the marshes.