The winter wildfowl that call Tophill Low home during our relatively mild winters have already started heading back to their summer breeding grounds so the large numbers of coot, wigeon, pochard and goldeneye are diminishing on a daily basis. The long staying female red crested pochard gave some late wildfowl interest till the middle of March.
Breeding activity on the reserve is in full swing and a short walk around the reception woods can uncover many birds pairing up. Last week there were chaffinches, great tits, wrens, dunnocks and robins and a very loud song thrush all singing.
Many roadside verges and parks are now covered in daffodils and there are some in the reception woods but for a more subtle spring flower look out for the dainty violets along the nature trail; both purple and white varieties can be seen. An often overlooked spring flower is the coltsfoot, similar on first glance to a dandelion but it flowers earlier and has very different stem structure and a more delicate shade of yellow. With spring flowers in bloom then you would expect there to be more insect life and the first bees have been seen and last week there were an awful lot of ladybirds to be found in the recently pruned buddleia bushes that edge the nature trail.
Easter holidays, if the weather is kind, can be the first time that some of us get up and out, ready to explore new places. It’s a great time to see the reserve with your family. During the Easter break there will be a number of activities that you can try your hand at with young children; pond dipping is a favourite and there is an I-Spy sheet that youngsters can take with them on the short natural trail. On Wednesday 17th April from 10am to noon there is a dedicated family event all about eggs. Not an Easter egg hunt but a fact finding mission to delve into the amazing world of birds; from how they chose, build and maintain their nests to why eggs are different colours, shapes and sizes. If you and your family want to join our Education guide on this event then please call the reserve to book a place on 01377 270690. The event is FREE with standard admission prices but all children must be accompanied by an adult.