SIGNS OF SPRING IN RIBCHESTER

A line of old oak trees in the Ribble Valley near Ribchester.

A WALK AROUND RIBCHESTER on a lovely spring day produced 49 species of birds, which is not bad for an area lacking an obvious birding site. The highlight was a flock of 15 Whooper Swans heading northwest over farmland to the north of the village, towards Longridge, calling. However, an ill-timed light aircraft caused them to veer southwest and out of sight. I also managed a new bird for the village today, Tufted Duck - a pair on a tiny decoy pond not far from High Alston Farm. Curlews, Lapwings and Oystercatchers are back on their breeding grounds and there were a couple of pairs of Common Redshank along the river. Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers were noted along with a nuthatch and my first Chiffchaff of the year, singing by the river at Old Park Wood. Over 60 Fieldfares continued and one of their small flocks contained at least seven Redwings, which will also be on their way east again soon. Buzzards were conspicuous with six soaring on the warm thermals and a female sparrowhawk was pursued relentlessly by a crow up high into the sky. Mammals included a roe deer, three grey squirrels and three Brown Hares and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was my first this spring. In the afternoon Tree Sparrows were busy at the colony on the edge of the churchyard bringing the total to 50 for the day.