“Wonderful” “Horrible” ” AAhh” ┬áThese were some of the reactions recently when I visited Cobble Hey Farm to help with the RSPB’s education programme. The children were reacting to seeing a lamb being born. They visit the farm to learn how food gets from farm to table. My contribution to this is to show how Farmer Dave manages some of his fields to help breeding waders. Already on one of the fields there were 200+ lapwings and about 10 curlews. Some of them were displaying and calling. Other signs of spring were plentiful. I had seen coltsfoot and primroses with blackthorn displaying its white flower. On my local patch we have the welcome return of grey herons nest building. This has not happened since 2005 so it is really good news. The Jacob’s sheep on Cuerden have also been giving birth, one of them has produced twins. A pair of kingfishers have excavated their tunnel and frog spawn already occupies several ponds. It really is a wonderful time of year. Sand martins have been spotted in the county so all we need now is to listen for the first chiffchaff and spring will then truly have sprung.

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I usually take a walk on Cuerden Valley Park in the middle of February to see if our Great Crested Grebes have returned. I’m glad to say they were on time as usual starting their courtship on the 14th of February. Who says birds cannot be romantic? It was a lovely day here in central Lancashire. A buzzard was calling high in the sky with at least two Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming away in the woodland. I took a walk along the river looking for snowdrops as a grey wagtail called quite near. I started to cross one of the bridges trying to get a better view and was thrilled to see a dipper skimming the surface of the water. A bonus awaited me. I continued to follow the dipper through my binoculars and saw it veer to the left. As it did so it disturbed a kingfisher which had been perched on a low hanging branch. This is usually the time when this lovely bird is searching for a good nesting site. It may be that our wettest wildest winter for years is trying to cling on, but I have seen the signs that spring IS on the way

grey wagtail (2)