Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park - March 2021

Garry Wright

Spring was in the air during March and the warm spell at the end of the month triggered the arrival of the ‘true’ spring migrants.

The Slavonian grebe present in the drain at Chapel St Leonards departed in the first week of the month after a near two-week residence.

A few wintering geese remained early on with white-fronted goose and barnacle goose both recorded on Huttoft Marsh. Whooper swan numbers dropped significantly to just single figures near the Boygrift Drain.

Four short-eared owls were seen together over Sandilands Golf Course on 6 March. Good numbers of meadow pipit and skylark have also been recorded displaying on the Golf Course which have not been recorded in previous years.     

Birds of prey have certainly dominated throughout March with record numbers of red kite migrating through the country park (eight birds noted over the month). These increased sightings clearly illustrating just how well this species continues to spread throughout the UK.

An osprey flew south over the sea at Marsh Yard on 19 March. Four buzzards in off the sea on 4 March were likely to be birds of continental origin as UK birds seldom move far.

Two red kites in flight (c) Garry Wright

It's been a record year for red kites in the Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park ©Garry Wright

Marsh harrier (c) Garry Wright

Marsh harrier ©Garry Wright

Marsh harriers are now back on territory with two pairs noted towards the end of the month. Interestingly one of the male marsh harriers was photographed sporting a metal BTO ring. Unfortunately, reading the ring to get its unique number/letter combination has proved impossible.

Iceland gull (c) Richard Doan

Iceland gull ©Richard Doan

A first-summer Iceland gull flew south over Wolla Bank on the 22 March. The Iceland gull and the similar looking glaucous gull are scarce migrants that breed in the high arctic. On average they are both just about recorded annually in the country park.   

Anderby Marsh has proved quite popular over the month with water levels remaining relatively high. A pair of redshank, lapwing and shelduck remained throughout with displaying noted from all three species. A migrant black-tailed godwit remained for two weeks and curlew numbers peaked at 62. The first ‘white’ wagtail of the year (the northern Europe equivalent to the pied wagtail) was noted on 6 March. Water pipits were noted on several dates with at least two birds in near summer plumage.

The great white egret recorded on Huttoft Marsh during February was again present on several dates in March. A male bearded tit was again recorded at Huttoft Pit.  

Bearded tit (c) Garry Wright

Bearded tit on Huttoft Pit ©Garry Wright

Swallow (c) Garry Wright

The first swallow of the year

The warm spell at the end of the month triggered the arrival of the ‘true’ spring migrants with the first sand martin recorded on 28 March, swallow and wheatear on 29 and willow warbler on 30. One lucky observer even recorded a male black redstart arriving in off the sea at Huttoft Car Terrace.

Over 5,000 bird records collected over January-March by the local birders soon to be sent to the Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership. An impressive 142 bird species had been recorded by the end of March.

Non-avian highlights

The first frogs and toads were recorded at Chapel Six Marshes on 16 March.

A couple sightings of harbour porpoise were again recorded with one from Wolla Bank on 13 March and four together from Marsh Yard on 19 March.

Good numbers of peacock and small tortoiseshell butterflies have been noted throughout on fine days.

Several early spring flowers have been seen in recent weeks with lesser celandine, coltsfoot, primrose and cowslip.

Brown-tailed moth caterpillars now emerging throughout the country park. These caterpillars and their webs can cause irritation to the skin and should be avoided.

Top five species to look for in April

  1. Green hairstreak butterfly (coastal footpath from Chapel Six Marshes to Anderby Creek the best place to see, particularly around hawthorn trees on warm days from mid-April)
  2. Cuckoo (Chapel Six Marshes to Anderby Creek)
  3. Sedge warbler (widespread throughout in any reed habitat)
  4. Yellow wagtail (often seen feeding amongst cattle at Anderby Marsh or Huttoft Marsh)
  5. Harbour porpoise (best looked for on calm days, sightings tend to pick up during the spring and summer months, Chapel North Sea Observatory is a good place to see them)