Late March 2023

31st March. Occasional rainy spells.

 Birds around included 15 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, a Sparrowhawk and 2 Chiffchaff.

30th March. Overcast again with a strong south-westerly wind.

 Around were 35 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 5 Sparrowhawk, a Buzzard, a Green Woodpecker, 9 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 5 Goldcrest and a Bullfinch. On Croftmarsh were 26 Pink-footed Goose and 2 Mediterranean Gull. A busier morning for vis mig with a moderate movement of finches, Woodpigeon, Starling, thrushes and Corvids, the highlights being 4 Red Kite, a Marsh Harrier, 3 Sand Martin and a Swallow, whilst offshore 6 Sandwich Terns flew into the Wash. North of the reserve were 2 Firecrest.

29th March. Temperatures still lower than average and a murky start. Rain from midday.

 Birds around included 75 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 2 Red Kite, a Mediterranean Gull, a Bullfinch, a Green Woodpecker, a Blackcap, 2 Stonechat and 15 Chiffchaff. Very little overland migration despite the south-westerly wind, but a couple of small flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares arrived. 90 Starling and 2 Goosander flew east out to sea. 2 Red-legged Partridges on the Cycle Track were perhaps the scarcest birds recorded today.

 Recent discussion about Jackdaw migration in British Birds journal and on Twitter has prompted a quick count up of recent Jackdaw movements here recently. Between 19th and 26th March, a total of 495 Jackdaws have been recorded flying south including 196 south on the 19th and the largest flock size of 75 also on that date. On occasions, parties have been seen arriving from the east or north-east over the sea e.g. 15 on 25th.

28th March. Overcast and threatening rain early morning with a strong south-easterly wind keeping temperatures down.

A brief sea-watch yielded the first Sandwich Tern of the year, 7 Common Scoter and 5 Red-throated Diver. Around were 75 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, a Pink-footed Goose, a Sparrowhawk, 2 Water Pipit, 4 Rock Pipit, 17 Chiffchaff and 20 Redwing. Flying south were 66 Starling, 143 Chaffinch, 2 Greenfinch, 7 Linnet, 7 Goldfinch and 69 Siskin.

Rock Pipit 28th March 2023. 
Photo - Ben Ward

27th March. Overnight frost and a cold morning, with warmer spells in the afternoon.

Woodpigeons and Starlings were the most prolific migrants heading south in the morning with fewer Chaffinch and Siskin. Also around were 3 Water Pipit, a Barn Owl, a Brambling, a Water Rail, a Jack Snipe and 9 Chiffchaffs. generally low coverage of the census area today with records only from the West Dunes, Plantation and Freshwater Marsh.

26th March. A cold northerly wind today.

Not an ideal day for birding around the dunes and seawatching was quiet. Small numbers of Redwing and Starling were on the move and a Brambling was a new arrival.

Up the road in Skegness, an escapee Gyrfalcon (with a pink ring) was watched feeding on a Herring Gull.

Gyrfalcon, Skegness. 26th March 2023. 
Photo - Nige Lound

25th March. Again, mild but less bright, more overcast than yesterday morning with a strong breeze from a more westerly direction.

Another superb day for visible migration with counts made between 0620 and 1020 by a small team of Lincs birders. A spring record count of 2466 Chaffinch was the headline, with 171 Siskin, 80 Linnet, various other Finches, Corvids, Rock and Meadow Pipits, Starlings, 20 Alba Wagtails, 90 Fieldfare and a Woodlark south. Redwings featured more prominently today, with flocks arriving and moving south totaling 470 and another 100 grounded around the Plantation. A good variety of Birds of Prey were also migrating south down the dunes; a Red Kite, a Marsh Harrier, 2 Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk, whilst single Merlin and Kestrel moved low south over the sea.

Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Muntjac Deer, Common Seal. 
Photos - Tom Baker

24th March. Remaining dry and mild, bright and sunny from first thing with increasing south-westerly wind. Some rain showers i the afternoon.

As with the ongoing weather patterns, the pattern of overland migration continued with all the usual species involved and a sample count of 574 Chaffinch and 139 Siskin south down the West Dunes in 90 minutes. 4 Brambling were identified with the Chaffinch flocks, there was a  stronger movement of Black-headed Gulls and 4 single Red Kites went through. Although most fly-over wagtails were left unidentified (albas), one was positively identified as a White Wagtail as it headed low south. A further three were grounded around the Freshwater marsh with 2 Pied wagtails, a Water Pipit and several Meadow Pipits.

Red Kite and Marsh Harrier, 24th March 2023. 
Photo - Kev Wilson

Red Kite and Carrion Crow, 24th March 2023.
Photo - Nige Lound

White Wagtail, 24th March 2023. 
Photo - Kev Wilson

Little Egrets and Avocets, 24th March 2023. 
Photo - Nige Lound

23rd March. Mild again but with strong south-westerly.

Chaffinches dominated the migration line up again this morning with over 900 moving in 90 minutes, amongst lesser numbers of Siskins, Linnets, Goldfinches, Rock and Meadow Pipits, Woodpigeons, Starlings, Corvids, Black-headed Gulls, Golden Plover and a Marsh Harrier.

Much of the early morning migration action was enjoyed by participants of the High Tide Breakfast event at the Visitor Centre, with wader flocks of course being the main theme; the morning tide count resulting in 21000 Knot, 3500 Grey Plover, 5000 Dunlin and 250 Sanderling.

22nd March. Mild, overcast with strong south-westerly breeze. 

The presumption that the wind would be too strong for overland migration proved wrong when Chaffinches started to head south in flocks of up to 60 from an hour after dawn, with at least 1888 logged in three hours. Again, small numbers of Siskins, Linnets, Goldfinches and Starlings were on the move, with a single Sand Martin, 2 Yellowhammers, a Grey Wagtail, 2 Merlin and an impressive flock of 98 Fieldfares, but a southbound Woodlark was the highlight. Offshore, 12 Red-throated Divers, 8 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Goldeneye flew south. The evening tide brought a very good count of 5000 Grey Plovers up to roost, with at least 10,000 Knot, 4000 Dunlin and 530 Sanderling.

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, 3 Yellowhammers and single Marsh Harrier, Bullfinch and Grey Wagtail. Surprisingly only one Brambling detected with all those Chaffinches. Also around were a Merlin, a Hen Harrier, 3 Marsh Harrier and a Green Woodpecker.

Gadwall, 21st March 2023. 
Photo - Tom Baker

Avocet with Brent Geese, 21st March 2023. 
Photo - Tom Baker

Primrose, 21st March 2023. 
Photo - Jim Shaw