The second part of March has been a bit of a mixed bag weatherise with high pressure dominating for a short while last week producing some glorious sunny and warm conditions.
|Sunrise at Dalmadilly Ponds on the 28th ~ pre cold front|
However, as I pen this post on the final day of the month a cold front has sunk northwards over the past few days with frosty mornings and snow showers the order of the day. Mind you as I've learnt over the past 18 months, that's the nature of the beast up here in northeast Scotland.
|Common Toads in Amplexus|
The warm spell did entice a few butterflies out on the wing with Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral all recorded. During a visit to Muir of Dinnet on the 21st, it was almost impossible to put your foot down on the paths, which were awash with Common Toads making their way to the many spawning ponds here.
|Great Crested Grebe on Loch Davan|
On the same day, I managed to catch a glimpse of a Great Crested Grebe on Loch Davan, one of the few places in Aberdeenshire these days to find one. Strange really having moved up here from the midlands where around my old birding area at Draycote Water they are often into high double-figures!
|Ross's Goose at Portlethen prior to it's final departure on the 25th.|
After the excitement of the Portlethen Ross's Goose which hung around until the 25th and was then seen and photographed over Lieurary, Caithness, on the 27th heading north there have been a few highlights.
|Red Kites over Dalmadilly on the 21st.|
|Chiffchaff's now well established on the local patch.|
One, in particular, was while taking a 'patch' walk around Dalmadilly Ponds on the 21st, where I noted six singing Chiffchaff, a pair of displaying Red Kite, along with my first Sand Martin of the year which suddenly appeared overhead, but no sooner seen than gone! I had hoped this may have been a precursor to the onset of spring migration but other than six returning Sandwich Terns fast asleep on the banks along the Ythan Estuary on the 24th things have remained pretty static.
|Black-tailed Godwit (An uncommon passage migrant here)|
During the same visit, I also recorded seven Black-tailed Godwit, year firsts and a count of eight Pintail from the Waulkmill Hide, both apparently listed here as uncommon passage migrants!
|Siskin has now joined the morning chorus.|
Despite the lack of summer arrivals, there are still plenty of signs of spring with the volume of the dawn chorus now beginning to increase with Siskin and Redpoll joining the chorus, along with the now established Chiffchaff's.
|Hare's-tail Cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatus) at Muir of Dinnet|
At Muir of Dinnet, my walk around the boardwalk produced plenty of toad spawn and lots of Hare's-tail Cottongrass is starting to appear on the wet boggy ground.
So as we move into April there's plenty to look forward to with the imminent arrival of many of our summer visitors and for me, a two week trip to Hungary at the back end of the month to look forward to!