Spring migration and sausages!

Hello birdwatchers

March has been an exciting month so far with even a little time to learn a new skill. More of that later.

Over the last month, my indoor classes have focused on what to expect during the spring migration. We’ve looked at the birds that are leaving the UK, what the residents are getting up to and which birds will be arriving over the next few weeks.

To increase this awareness, I’ve run some sessions to demystify one of the most difficult sections in a fieldguide – the bit that contains warblers. We’ve split warblers into different genera to help with identification.

Female blackcap at Rodley Nature Reserve

Groups have also learned more about wheatears, cuckoos and brood parasitism. This week is the last of the indoor classes until September and both my Monday and Wednesday evening groups will be putting all their learning into practice over the spring and summer months.

Spring has certainly arrived early this year and I was astounded to witness the scene at RSPB Old Moor on Saturday 1st March. All the islands were filled with screeching black-headed gulls and a Mediterranean gull was strutting confidently among them. There were signs of spring everywhere and there was such a lot of warmth in the sun that it felt as though it should have been the beginning of April.

Twite at RSPB Blacktoft

Outdoor classes have all been in Yorkshire over March and have also included RSPB Blacktoft Sands; YWT North Cave Wetlands; Meanwood Valley; YWT Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve; Roundhay Park and Gorge, Rodley Nature Reserve and YWT Hetchell Woods. The furthest was our trip to Filey, YWT Filey Dams and the east coast. Here it was obvious that winter and spring were still overlapping with snow buntings being seen on the grassland above the cliffs and gannets already nesting at RSPB Bempton Cliffs.

The first of the gannets at RSPB Bempton Cliffs

The final weekend in March was spent at Skipwith Common with fabulous views of woodlark, green woodpecker, redpoll and siskin.

Green woodpecker at Skipwith Common

So where do the sausages come in? My partner and I took a well deserved day off and went on course at Old Sleningford Farm to learn all about how to make sausages. We spent the morning preparing the farm reared meat and adding a variety of flavours then we got the chance to taste the sausage mixture for lunch, in the form of a burger, before putting the minced mixture into the skins. We all took our wares home and we are now going to attempt to make our own sausages.

home made sausage and mash

I really do recommend that you look at the Old Sleningford Farm website as they put a variety of courses on their calendar. They’ll even be having a birdwatching course there in October and guess who will be running it? Me of course – the course will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and lunch will be provided. Contact me for details if you’d like to brush up on your birding skills in 2014 or why not join one of my classes over the spring and summer months. Email me at linda.startbirding@gmail.com

Happy birding!

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