Blog Post: Never the twain shall meet

The Arctic meets the Mediterranean at Marshside this week The last time a black winged stilt was seen on the land at Marshside was when some of us were still in short pants, but not all of us (not to mention any names). The bird in question was seen on Polly's Creek on 28 April 1984. Not a million dates away from this years sighting on 18 April. Stilts are members of the wader and avocet family and are more widely found in Europe and Africa, on marshes and shallow lakes. But, here is one on a saltmarsh in northwest England. This is testament to the fabulous habitat at Marshside. The land, managed by our wardens to attract protected and scarce breeding wading birds in the spring and to provide food and safety in winter has caught the eye of a "new" bird. This Mediterranean wader is currently rubbing shoulders with our Arctic winter visitors, who will be on the move northwards to their breeding grounds in the next few weeks. Whilst it may seem likely that the snow goose observed this winter has possibly got itself mixed up with the wrong flock of geese or "got on the wrong bus" so to speak, the stilt does not have that reason as to why it is here. It is commonly known that stilts do overshoot their northern migration or is it that this bird is a pioneer or a scout? The first successful breeding pair of black winged stilts in Britain was recorded in 1987 and a few pairs breed in southern parts of the country reasonably regularly, but it is still an unusual occurrence to find one in northwest England. If you've not seen it yet, it has been giving good views from Nel's Hide. We also have other exciting visitors have also been seen or heard. Whilst many of the ducks that we see over the winter are now making their way over to the Northern breeding grounds, leaving our shores. Conversely there is one duck that travels from much further south, some of them landing on our shores. These beautiful visitors are garganey . They are the only ducks travelling northwards that land on our shores for the spring/summer season. It's never truly certain how many of these secretive and elusive ducks breed here. They often arrive in pairs, but ducklings are rarely seen, never the less they are a marvellous duck and there has been a pair seen around the reserve. Fairhaven News During the Easter holidays families have enjoyed many activities around Fairhaven. We were pleased to note that the sun was shining on us for our family mud dipping session, and what a time we had. We found lots of weird and wonderful washed up beach treasures and then also found loads of live invertebrates that inhabit the mud. Ragworms were particularly abundant and there were plenty of bivalve shells to identify too. By the end of the session we were full of mud, we'd found fabulous things, had lots of fun together and had discovered lots of new creatures. The "Easter Egg-stravaganza" trail has also proved popular. If you've bought a pack but have not yet completed the trail, you have until the end of the month to do so, but don't worry there will be a brand new fun family trail for the Summer holidays. We also have our bug hotel making on Sunday 1 May 1-3. Our bug hotels have been lovingly hand made out of marine plywood and are incredibly durable. Please book here to reserve your spot. Our nestbox making event in February half term was filled to capacity so booking is essential. We have also returned from the Easter break and are inundated with school visit enquiries which is great! We are almost full in June, but do have some spaces available in May. If you'd like to know more then check out our bookings pages here. See you all soon and keep your eyes and ears peeled, springtime is all around.... Jo Black winged stilt from archive by Jo, mermaids purse by Jo