A frosty start to the day, but by the time I'd finished my walk round Ferry Meadows it felt positively warm in the sunshine. Despite the low temperatures there was a definite feel of spring in the air; two song thrushes singing, the first great spotted woodpecker of the year drumming in Bluebell Wood, a pair of bullfinches feasting on the swelling buds of a hawthorn and a bank of starry lesser celandines in flower.
But the highlight of my walk was spotting this pair of snipe busy feeding in Heron Meadow, the first ones I've seen here for over thirty years. A couple of years ago the Nene Park Trust carried out extensive habitat improvements in this area to encourage waders and wildfowl, including the creation of many shallow ditches, and installation of proper water control structures to keep the meadows wet. Unfortunately the winter of 2018/19 was very dry, so the meadows didn't live up to their potential, but this year they have been extensively flooded and are now in perfect condition.
The UK population of snipe has undergone moderate declines overall in the past twenty-five years, with particularly steep declines in lowland wet grassland, making it an Amber List species. Their fantastically long and sensitive bill allows them to probe in soft mud for small invertebrates, including worms and insect larvae, which these two were clearly finding in abundance..