Late March 2023

 21st March. Overnight rain took a while to clear up after dawn. The morning remained overcast with a light south-westerly breeze.

Ideal conditions for vis mig again with large flocks of Chaffinch the dominant species with 2400 south in just over 2 hours. 137 Siskin also passed south with smaller numbers of Crows, Rooks, Jackdaws, alba Wagtails, Woodpigeons, Meadow Pipits and Rock Pipits.

Mid March 2023

20th March. A morning of continuous light rain or drizzle with a light south-westerly wind. rain clearing in the afternoon but remaining overcast.

Several Chiffchaffs were vocal despite poor conditions. A Long-eared Owl was in scrub along North Building Ridge and at least 2 Water Pipits around the Freshwater Marsh. Another big day for Starlings saw over 300 out east and 4000 move south. In the evening small parties of Curlew and Oystercatcher were seen heading out north-east over the sea. The Gull roost saw increased numbers of Lesser Black- backed Gulls (33) in amongst 3000 Herring Gulls. A Barn Owl was hunting the Old Saltmarsh and a male Hen Harrier went to roost.

Barn Owl 20th March 2023. 
Photos- Tom Baker

19th March. Dry after overnight rain with cool westerly breeze in the morning, with a warm and sunny afternoon.

Another very good morning for 'vis mig' and whilst Chaffinch were in much smaller numbers today, Woodpigeons and Starlings were much increased. Over 2980 Starlings flew south whilst a further 6500 left high to the east and out to sea in large flocks. At the end of the day over 10,000 went to roost - the first sizeable roost of the spring - hopefully there will be a repeat of the astonishing numbers roosting in late March last year. The first 2 Sand Martin of the year passed through early morning, followed by a spate of raptor passage; 2 Red Kites, 22 Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk, a Short-eared owl and a Peregrine,  but the highlight of the day was a brief Alpine Swift, initially seen over the Old Saltmarsh and then later heading north over Seacroft Lagoon in the early evening. A Spotted Redshank was also new in at dusk.

Short-eared Owl, 19th March 2023. 
Photos - Tom Baker

Leucistic Brent Goose, 19th March 2023. 
Photo - Ste Taylor.

18th March. Overcast conditions with a light south-westerly breeze.

Following yesterdays migration, Chaffinches were on the move in much greater numbers from first thing this morning (total 984 south), again with plenty of Pipits, Finches, Corvids, Redwings and alba Wagtails including the first 2 White Wagtails of the year.

17th March. A mild morning with a south-westerly breeze, fairly overcast but dry with sunny spells.

The first Wheatear of the year was around the Visitor Centre, the first Firecrest of the year was at Sykes Farm and 3 Chiffchaffs in the East Dunes were also new arrivals. Visible migration was underway, involving Finches, Corvids, Pipits and alba wagtails and it was a good morning for counting common birds with encouraging numbers of Wren and Dunnock on territory in the dunes. A thin scattering of migrant Thrushes and Robins was also noted.

Wheatear, 17th March 2023. 
Photo - Nige Lound

16th March. A fairly quiet day. The 4 Stonechats were still present around the Visitor Centre. There were 11 Redwings in the West Dunes and a Chiffchaff at Sykes Farm.

15th March. Cold and foggy early on becoming brighter.

4 Stonechats near the Visitor Centre Car Park was a good sign of new spring arrivals. Also new in was a Bearded Tit on Tennyson's Sands and a Brambling in the Plantation. Starling numbers were building up with 1500 on Croftmarsh.

Bearded Tit, 15th March 2023. 
Photo - Nige Lound

14th March. Overnight rain persisting until early morning then brightening up considerably. Wind much reduced from yesterday.

At sea, 3 Gannet and 9 Pintail went north. .Another 2 Pintail were on Tennyson's Sands  with 5 Avocet, but otherwise, little change in waterbird numbers. 7 Water Pipit were with Meadow Pipits on the Freshwater Marsh late afternoon. Good views possible with a cautious approach along Mill Pond Road.

13th March. A gusting south-westerly wind increased to a gale by late afternoon with a few showers during the day. 

A light visible migration detectable in the first two hours of the day involving a few Chaffinch, Linnet, Greenfinch, Siskin, Pipits, Starlings and 2 alba wagtails. A Peregrine was hunting over Croftmarsh and north of the Reserve, 12 Snow Buntings were on the beach at Seacroft

                Wigeon. Photos - Tom Baker               

Shoveler and Brent Geese. Photo - Tom Baker

Black-tailed Godwits, with Avocets and Brent Geese. 
Photo - Tom Baker

Black-tailed Godwits. Photos- Tom Baker

Kestrel. Photo - Tom Baker

12th March. Unsettled conditions clearing quickly early morning resulting in a dry and overcast morning, fairly calm with general good visibility.

An excellent couple of hours this morning, commencing with a male Merlin on the beach and a ringtail Hen harrier over the saltmarsh.  Then a Woodlark circled the East Dunes before landing north of Mill Hill. after 30 minutes the Woodlark flew off south calling and at that moment, two Common Cranes became audible to the north. The Cranes (having been reported earlier over the A52) circled over the beach and Reserve for a while before heading off towards the Wash. A quiet evening for pipits, just two Water Pipits around and the male Hen Harrier was over the Freshwater Marsh

Merlin and Common Cranes, 12th March 2023. 
Photos- Kev Wilson

11th March. Much improved weather.

An increase in Meadow Pipits was noted in the afternoon, with 21 along Mill Pond Road with at least one Water Pipit still around and a further 40 unidentified pipits went to roost in the  the New Saltmarsh. A Chiffchaff was in the Plantation. Late afternoon birds of prey included single Short-eared Owl, two  Hen Harriers and two Marsh Harriers.

Chiffchaff 11th March 2023. 
Photo - Roy Harvey

Pink-footed Goose 11th March 2023. 
Photo - Ste Taylor

Early March 2023

10th March Very cold with a near-continuous mix of rain, sleet, hail and snow showers until early afternoon when it became more settled.

Difficult conditions but a report of a single Egyptian Goose was received in the morning. An afternoon session produced a Short-eared Owl, a Hen Harrier, 2 Marsh Harrier, 3 Water Pipit, a Woodcock, 30 Redwing and a Snow Bunting.

Short-eared Owl, 10th March 2023. 
Photo - Kev Wilson

9th March. Cold again with wintery showers and a northerly breeze.

The highlight of a brief morning watch was a Red Kite, mobile around the Reserve - a pristine plumaged bird, possibly the same as the one seen recently. A waterbird survey from the hides revealed good local counts of 125 Shoveler and 62 Tufted Duck whilst 15 redwings were feeding along the edge of Jackson's Marsh.

Red Kite, 9th March 2023. 
Photos - Kev Wilson

8th March. A cold day with wintery showers.

Nothing much new to report today.

Linnets, 8th March 2023. 
Photo - Tom Baker

7th March. Starting cool with a light northerly wind but strong sun late morning providing much warmth in sheltered spots. A contrasting afternoon saw an increasing north wind and fronts bring sleet and snow.

Birds around included 2 Barn Owl, a Short-eared Owl, a Peregrine and a Hen Harrier. A hint of southerly passage involved 5 Chaffinch, 2 Siskin and 3 Rook.

6th March. Cold with regular rain showers and a north wind.

Today's highlights were a Bearded Tit on Tennyson's Sands and a 2CY Caspian Gull in the evening roost from the Wash Viewpoint.

Shoulder Stripe, 6th March 2023. 
Photo - Kev Wilson

5th March. A slight drop in temperature this morning but fairly calm and overcast resulting in very good birding conditions and visibility out to sea. 

Two Goosander flew north and an adult summer Med Gull made its presence known, calling overhead before departing south. A Great Northern Diver arrived at some height from the north, veering inland before changing course and heading south into the Wash. Also offshore, a Harbour Porpoise was close in. Two vocal Egyptian Geese were entertaining local residents with displays on their roof-tops down Gibraltar Road! A Chiffchaff in the East Dunes was a new arrival. Also around were 2 Snow Bunting and a Short-eared Owl.

Egyptian Geese, 5th March 2023. 
Photo - Rob Watson

4th March. Early morning drizzle becoming intermittent later and with a cool northerly wind.

Quiet again at sea except for c15 red-throated Divers. A Red Kite arrived from the north and circled over the Old Saltmarsh just prior to the arrival of 2 Ravens that circled the north end of the East Dunes and outer ridges, possibly going down at the north end. Snow Buntings were up to 24 along the beach, with 105 Linnet. Birds of Prey over the Old Saltmarsh late afternoon included 3 Short-eared Owls and a Barn Owl.

Raven, 4th March 2023. 
Photo - Kev Wilson

3rd March. Evidence of a turnover of bids in the Brent Goose flock came in the form of  a very distinctive leucistic bird that had not ben seen here over the winter. It seems likely that it is the same as a bird seen in France in late February. Other birds around included 2 Water Pipit, 2 Short-eared Owl, 17 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Redwing and a Collared Dove.

Leucistic brent Goose with Brent flock on Tennyson's Sands, 3rd March 2023. 
Photo - Nige Lound

Marsh Harrier, 3rd March 2023. 
Photo - Tom Baker

Shoveler, 3rd March 2023. 
Photo - Tom Baker

Pochard, 3rd March 2023. 
Photo - Tom Baker

2nd March. A biting north-east wind depressing temperatures, but dry and overcast with good visibility.

At sea, a few Red-throated Divers and groups of Eider, with a single Black-throated Diver heading north. A Green Woodpecker was a scarce sighting for this time of year. 5 Water Pipits were around late afternoon with 2 Hen Harrier and 2 Marsh Harrier going to roost.

Ringing Control: A 1st winter female Blackbird ringed at Helgoland, Germany on 5th November 2023, was retrapped at Gibraltar Point on 14th November 2023.

1st March. Mostly overcast with fairly regular bouts of drizzle or rain showers.

A Woodlark was over the east Dunes early morning with 13 Snow Buntings on the beach and 15 Red-throated Divers offshore. A Water Rail showed well at Bean's Hole (the bomb crater on the Old Saltmarsh at the seaward end of the South Marsh Road) and 25 Whooper Swans were in local fields. On the lagoons wildfowl counts included 132 Shoveler, 240 Wigeon, 350 Teal, 650 Brent Geese and a Pintail, with 150 Lapwing and 25 Black-tailed Godwit. A good selection of Pipits again on the Fenland Lagoon included 3 Water Pipits, 4 Rock Pipits (2 littoralis) and 8 Meadow Pipits. Birds coming in to roost included a Hen Harrier, 4 Marsh Harrier and 800 Pink-footed Geese.

Water Pipit, 1st March 2023. 
Photo - Phil Hyde

Water Pipit, 1st March 2023. 
Photo - Steve Hibberd

Water Pipit, 1st March 2023. 
Photo - Steve Hibberd

Water Pipit, 1st March 2023. 
Photo - Steve Hibberd

Water Rail, 1st March 2023. 
Photo - Phil Hyde

Late February 2023

28th February. Remaining unsettled with regular bouts of fine drizzle and a north wind.

At least 5 Water Pipits around today with 3 of them showing very well on the Fenland Lagoon with 2 Rock Pipits (one of each littoralis and petrosus apparently). Poor visibility at sea precluded any seawatching but 7 Snow Buntings were along the beach. 4 high-flying Redwings appeared to be new arrivals, a Barn Owl was hunting the Old Saltmarsh late afternoon and 3 Marsh Harriers went to roost.

27th February. An unsettled morning with occasional rain showers, mixed sunny and cloudy intervals and a persistent cold northerly wind.

This mornings survey concentrated on counting the wildfowl around the lagoons; highlights being 580 Brent Geese, 17 Shoveler, 48 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard and a Pintail. Still a good batch of unidentified Pipits around the Old Saltmarsh, but a small sample feeding periodically on the Fenland Lagoon proved that three species are involved.

Water Pipit, 27th February. 
Photo - Kev Wilson

Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 27th February. 
Photo - Kev Wilson

Meadow Pipit, 27th February. 
Photo - Kev Wilson

26th February. A moderate north-easterly wind keeping temperatures down, but otherwise, dry, and sunny.

Not much change today, although 8 Woodcock flushed form a relatively small area indicated an influx. Otherwise, a single Goldeneye flew north in a very brief seawatch, an immature male Merlin hunted waders along the beach, 2 Siskin and 6 Rock Pipit flew south. Little Grebes were vocal on the lagoons this morning and other birds in song included Skylark, Red Bunting, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Robin and Dunnock.

25th February. A strong northerly wind.

The north winds produced little at sea, the highlight being a Fulmar. Birds around included 700 Brent Geese, 820 Pink-footed Geese, 47 Whooper Swan and 10 Snow Bunting.

24th February. Another big tide this morning and another impressive wader roost. Knot were well represented with 14,700 whilst the Dunlin count of 8290 was exceptional for February. There were also 4060 Grey Plover and 400 Sanderling. 12 Snow Bunting were along the beach, 45 Whooper Swan were in the fields and 4 Stonechats were around. A Great Black-backed Gull provided entertainment as it managed to down a large Dogfish over the course of 35 minutes! Other birds of note that have only been thinly recorded so far this year included Green Woodpecker, Collared Dove and Yellowhammer.

Sparrowhawk, 24th February. 
Photo - Nige Lound

Gibraltar Point Bird Observatory data - first 10 years now digitised and submitted to BTO's BirdTrack - see details here:

23rd February. Early morning rain, then overcast with moderate northerly wind. The combination of predicted high tides, residual effects of Storm Otto and northerly winds amounted to the highest tide witnessed since the storm surge of December 2013. Although, still way off that level, the tidal flooding across the saltmarsh and the outer dunes from the previous evening tide was impressive and this mornings tide too was well above predicted level.

The morning tide saw another very good roost of Dunlin (6700), Bar-tailed Godwit (2300) and Grey Plover (3860) amongst other waders, although the large Knot flock present earlier in the week did not come up to the main roost and may have moved over to crop fields. A Peregrine arrived at the roost and caused mayhem before landing on the shingle bar. 300 Brent Geese came onto Tennyson's Sands and a Barn Owl was hunting around the south end.

22nd February. Rain for the first part of the morning then increasing wind becoming northerly.

Todays highlights were 12 Greenfinch and 6 Siskin at the feeding station, 500 Brent Geese on the lagoons, 16 Little Egret at the pre-roost on Jackson's Marsh in the evening with 2 Marsh Harriers going to roost there.

21st February. Little change in the weather, remaining mild and dry with a south-westerly breeze.

Another big tide this morning with a noticeable increase in Grey Plover and Dunlin; 3400 and 4600 respectively. After yesterdays Spoonbill sightings at two coastal sites, 2 arrived with us today and were different from those seen elsewhere in the mini-influx. Otherwise, Pipits provided interest and challenges during the day. The first spring movement of Meadow Pipits involved 18 south and 5 grounded whilst 9 Rock Pipits flew south with another 25 around. 3 Water Pipits came off the Freshwater Marsh and the evening Pipit roost on the Old Saltmarsh involved 31 Rock or Water Pipits.

Spoonbills 21st February 2023. 
Photos - Nige Lound.

Mid February 2023

February 20th. Remaining dray and mild but with a cool south-westerly breeze increasing

A light Chaffinch movement again with several Skylark, Goldfinch, Rook, Rock Pipit and Siskin also heading south. Another 5 Siskin were attending the Plantation feeding station. Brent Geese were up to 1380 while the regular group of 49 Whooper Swans were on local fields. A Peregrine hunted ducks on Jackson's Marsh. Offshore, the highlight of a brief seawatch were 2 Little Gulls and only 4 Snow Buntings were on the beach. A very high evening tide was apparently attributed to Storm Otto, covered most of the outer ridges, limiting roosting space for waders. Nonetheless, 570 sanderling, 3580 Dunlin, 14300 Knot and 1430 Grey Plover settled. At dusk, 3500 Pink-footed Geese came onto Croftmarsh again and 30 Pipits (Rock or Water) went to roost on the Old Saltmarsh.

February 19th. Overcast, mild and still.

No evidence of overland migration in the calm conditions this morning, compared to yesterday. Red-throated Divers still exceeding 100 offshore, but nothing new of note at sea. A good day for counting common birds in the dunes - a group of 4 Goldcrests probably new arrivals, at least 3 Water Pipits were between the Freshwater Marsh and Tennyson's Sands and the evening tide roost involved around 12,000 waders of which 7000 were Knot and 1100 Grey Plover, whilst 3500 Pink-footed Geese came in to roost on Croftmarsh and 12 Whooper Swan roosted on Tennyson's sands.

Pink-footed Geese to roost on Croftmarsh, 19th February 2023. 
Photos - Steve Hibberd

Whooper Swans, 19th February 2023. 
Photo - Kev Wilson

February 18th. A moderate westerly breeze, but otherwise very pleasant and becoming warm for the time of year.

An excellent morning for the variety of birds, some early visible migration and a couple of scarcities. The latter represented by a group of 3 vocal Woodlarks that flew low, south past Mill Hill at 0813. Remarkably, at 0852 what must be presumed to have been the same group of 3 Woodlarks then passed Mill Hill heading south again!  2 Ravens, typically picked up on call, arrived from the north and settled at Shovelers Pool for several minutes. Other southbound migrants included a Red Kite, 25 Chaffinch, 11 Linnet, 9 Goldfinch, 5 Siskin, a Redpoll, 4 Meadow Pipit, a Rock Pipit, 3 Rook, 22 Skylark and a Snipe. Offshore 5 Little Gulls and a Kittiwake flew south and a large flock of 3500 Golden Plover was an unusual sight as they also headed south and high over the sea. Other birds around included 1100 Brent Geese, 11 Snow Bunting, 2 Woodcock, a Water Pipit and the first Lesser Black-backed Gull of the year.

Ravens, 18th February 2023. 
Photo - Kev Wilson

Siskin 18th February 2023. 
Photo - Jeremy Eyeons

Long-tailed Tit, 18th February 2023. 
Photo - Jeremy Eyeons

February 17th.

9 Little Gulls and a Gannet flew south  during a morning sea watch and an evening session from the wash Viewpoint was rewarded with 2 Hen Harriers, 4 Marsh Harriers, a Sparrowhawk, 2500 Knot, 42 Rock Pipit and 4 Stonechat.

February 16th. No records today.

February 15th. An evening roost count from Harvey's Hide was rewarded with 2500 Pink-footed Geese, 49 Whooper Swans and 44 Alba Wagtails.

Whooper Swans, 15th February 2023. 
Photos- Nige Lound

February 14th. Recording much reduced today due to persistent fog. However, a Chiffchaff and a Siskin were heard.

February 13th. 

Brent Goose numbers had increased to 1000. Other birds around included 16 Corn Bunting, 16 Snow Bunting and a Hen Harrier.

Brent Goose juvenile, 13th February 2023. 
Photo - Nige Lound

Linnets, 13th February 2023. 
Photo - Nige Lound

Rock Pipit, 13th February 2023. 
Photo - Nige Lound

Roe Deer, 13th February 2023. 
Photo - Jack Hood

Buff-tailed Bumble-bee, 13th February 2023. Photo - Nige Lound

February 12th.

Today's highlights included 1250 Lapwing, 600 Golden Plover, 873 Wigeon, 20 Whooper Swan, 2500 Pink-footed Geese, 800 Brent Geese, 127 Red-throated Diver, 27 Great Crested Grebe, 8 Snow Bunting, 2 Water Pipit, a Grey Partridge and 28 Redwing.

February 11th. A return to milder conditions, although with a cool westerly breeze.

Still good numbers of red-throated Divers offshore, with a single Black-throated Diver again arriving from the north and settling on the sea early morning and still around mid afternoon. A probable Great Norther Diver flew high south distantly and a flock of 12 Snow Buntings were around the beach. Around 2000 Pink-footed Geese left the roost and went to feed inland. Brent Goose numbers showed another increase with just over 1000 today, many of which spent time on Tennyson's Sands mid afternoon. Numbers of Golden Plover and Lapwing were down on recent days though. Skylarks were in good numbers and good voice. Also heard, was a Green Woodpecker - new for the year. Also of note, 3 Siskin flew south.