Latest wildlife sightings – February 2019

How was that for a February? A spell of unseasonably warm and sunny weather has given spring a bit of a kick up the bum, so what has been seen at our reserves and local sites?

Video by Paul Thompson

Doffcocker Lodge

Our volunteer Paul Thompson was over the moon to spot a bittern in the reeds at Doffcocker Lodge! We have been managing the reedbed here on behalf of Bolton Council since 2008, and it is wonderful to see our hard work – and the work of our fantastic volunteers – pay off. Paul said:

“I've been monitoring this site for about 13 years and was delighted to see the bittern. It’s great to know the conservation work done by Lancashire Wildlife Trust and other local groups is paying off. Keep up the good work LWT and who knows what I might see next, perhaps a Cetti's warbler or bearded tits.”

Our reedbed work at Doffcocker Lodge has also seen water rail and snipe move in.

Brockholes Nature Reserve

Brockholes has been incredibly busy over the past few weeks. As well as having not one, but two bitterns spotted on-site, the warm February weather has sparked a mass emergence of pollinators, including species that have previously never been recorded on the reserve during February.

Mining bees have been emerging from the bee banks after our Conservation Team and Volunteer Interns set about scraping and tidying them up. Early mining bees, tawny mining bees, Clarke’s mining bees and Gwynne’s mining bees have been seen feeding on wildflowers like coltsfoot, and if that wasn’t enough, they have been joined by countless bumblebees and butterflies enjoying the early spring buffet:

  • Buff-tailed bumblebee
  • Red-tailed bumblebee
  • Tree bumblebee
  • Common carder bee
  • Heath bumblebee (only the second ever reserve record!)
  • Honeybee
  • Comma butterfly
  • Small tortoiseshell butterfly
  • Painted lady butterfly
  • Red admiral butterfly

Other exciting Brockholes wildlife sightings include frogspawn, mating ringed plovers, and lapwings scraping ready for the breeding season.

A green woodpecker standing on the ground and calling

Green woodpecker by Andrew Morffew

Heysham

It’s been a busy month in the Heysham area. Breeding season is in full swing for birds and mammals alike, with foxes spotted getting frisky out on the mud at South Shore.

Snipe and jack snipe are still on Ocean Edge salt marsh, while three Brent geese have been feeding around the slipway at Half Moon Bay. Most impressive of all is the 3,500-strong group of knot at the heliport!

One of the best ways to spot sea birds at Heysham is to look out over the ocean, and volunteers were rewarded with a fulmar. These birds were once a common sight during seawatches but are now scarce. Back on land, the green woodpecker that was heard yaffling in January has been at it again and has been heard regularly from the Heysham office. You can listen to their unusual call below.

But February wasn’t just about birds at Heysham – a male pale brindled beauty moth was found resting on the wall of Heysham office. They fly from January to March, searching for wingless females to mate with.

If you visited Heysham Nature Reserve, you may have been surprised to spot a few butterflies making the most of the sunshine. Peacock, comma and brimstone butterflies were all seen on the reserve.

Middleton Nature Reserve

Middleton Nature Reserve is still a haven for ducks at the moment, including good numbers of:

  • Pochard
  • Tufted duck
  • Shoveler
  • Gadwall
  • Teal

Other birds on-site during February included goldcrests, water rail, meadow pipit, green woodpecker and the secretive woodcock. Cetti’s warblers have been heard singing by the ‘No swimming’ pond and Central Marsh, and we’ve had a few sightings of stonechats.

What we’re really excited about, however, is the arrival of a chiffchaff and a little grebe. This is the first time we’ve seen either of these birds this year.

A male and female bearded tit clinging to reeds at Lunt Meadows nature reserve

Male and female bearded tits by Stephen D'Cruze

Lunt Meadows

Our fantastic staff and volunteers at Lunt Meadows have been busy preparing the reserve for breeding season, and a few pairs of oystercatchers have already set up territories on the newly created islands.

Waders are still feeding and roosting on the reserve in impressive numbers, including more than 50 black-tailed godwits. Barn owls and short-eared owls can be seen hunting on most evenings, and five great crested grebes were seen gobbling down impressively large fish on the pools!

Some of our most exciting Lunt Meadows sightings in February have included:

  • Golden plover calling from the wet grassland
  • 10 – 12 bearded tits in the reedbeds
  • Occasional sightings of a kingfisher along the main drain near the pump building
  • Cattle egret flying overhead
  • A pair of ravens flying over the reserve and ‘kronking’ to one another

What have you spotted on our nature reserves recently? With spring on the horizon things are only set to hot up, and we’d love to see your pictures and read all about your wild experiences. Get in touch on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.