In a notably wet March, the fields turned quite splashy again, and on March 10th a flock of 32 black-headed gulls and five herring gulls were feeding in the hay field, doubtless attracted by the numerous worms driven closer to the surface by the waterlogged conditions. The goosander that has been holidaying on the Stour was still present in the first half of the month, but is liable to be moving back to more northerly breeding haunts very soon. Only five snipe on were spotetd on the 10th, and just four tufted duck on the Tonford Lake on March 30th. The pair of great crested grebes are still cruising around the lake, so it’s fingers crossed for a successful breeding season, which will be proved by the appearance of a small flotilla of stripy-necked chicks.
Two great spotted woodpeckers were heard drumming away on the old railway embankment one morning ; the male does most of this, and can be distinguished by the red patch on the nape of his neck (left), but the female also drums occasionally. At the end of the month a singing reed bunting was a welcome sound, seven months after the last one recorded on the Marshes.
Snake’s head fritillaries are raising their delightful little bonnets once more in the hay field and boardwalk field. The boardwalk population clings on desperately, with numbers likely to remain in single figures for the ninth year. In the hay field it is too early to say whether the population has stabilised or increased after last spring’s decline.