‘When we hear the willow warblers sing spring will be here’

Jeff Goodridge
Jeff Goodridge

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AS WE slowly creep towards spring, our local birdlife has been quite interesting.

Temperatures reached a balmy 16 degrees a few weeks ago, which encouraged a few migrant birds (swallows, house martins and wheatears) to return to our shores; however, did they arrive too early?

The cold snap on the south coast, may put the brakes on any serious migration.

Some special birds have been showing well of late in and around the area.

The normally skulking water rails have been spotted by the reeds at Baffins Pond and the beautiful red-breasted goose has reappeared within the brent geese flocks on nearby Farlington Marshes.

An Iceland gull, normally a high Arctic species, has been seen regularly near the Explosion Museum at Gosport.

Waxwings, a stunning bird sporting a punk like crest, from Scandinavia, have been spotted in Southsea. I was even lucky enough to have a small flock actually fly over my garden early one morning.

How do we know about all these superb birds?

Fortunately, Portsmouth does have a good number of dedicated ‘birders’ who report their sightings regularly on the Hants Birding website.

I saw a beautiful Mediterranean gull fly over, most likely flying over towards Langstone Harbour where many more gather each spring to court and breed.

It will not be long now until our gardens will herald the songs of chiffchaffs and willow warblers; tiny little waifs that have travelled thousands of miles to breed here.

When they start singing, you really know spring has arrived.