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These are records and photographs contributed to the Nature of Dorset by nature enthusiasts from across the county. If you would like to contribute there is a guide as to how HERE.
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A look at the species group chart below shows clearly that March is a month of change; spring may not have arrived but it is obviously just around the corner! The chart shows that birds continue to dominate the sightings which is to be expected and with spring migration movements beginning they remain the most highly visible branch of wildlife. Birds are, of course, the main interest of many wildlife enthusiasts and that will also have a bearing on the predominance of bird records but butterflies and moths begin to appear along with other, more specialist, insect species. Some mammals and all of the reptile species are emerging from hibernation in March too.
March this year saw the lesser yellow-legs and the green-winged teal remain at Lychett Bay throughout the month. Cattle egrets seemed to be widespread and great white egrets were seen in a number of places. Iceland and Caspian gulls turned up for a short while and snow buntings surprisingly appeared around Studland and Ballard Down whilst Richard's pipits were around the Abbotsbury swannery for quite a while. Other 'headliners' were the continued presence of the Hume's leaf warbler on Portland, the rose-coloured starling in Dorchester, a scattering of waxwing near Poole, a couple of hoopoe records and of Siberian chiffchaffs.
Less exotic but still interesting was the increase in numbers of red kite sightings, whether these were a number of different birds or a small number of mobile ones is not clear. The once scarce little ringed plover seems to be turning up in good numbers and great grey shrikes were seen at a couple of heathland sites. Long-tailed ducks stayed at Abbotsbury for much of the month.
Records of wheatear, sand martin, house martin, swallow, willow warbler, chiffchaff and blackcap were are a clear sign that inward spring migration was underway and a number wader records for green sandpiper, sanderling, whimbrel, greenshank, bar-tailed and black-tail godwit confirmed this.
There were a number of early moth records and a surprising number of butterfly records of which clouded yellow and painted lady seemed exceptional but these may have been awakening hibernating specimens which also accounted for early red admiral, peacock, small tortoiseshell and brimstone. Holly blue and orange-tip in March were very early records for emerging species.
Mammal species recorded included roe and sika deer which is hardly surprising along with a number of otter sightings which certainly confirms the resurgence of this once endangered and charming animal. At sea there were sightings of bottle-nose dolphins and harbour porpoise as well as one of the local Atlantic grey seals. Four of the six native reptile species were also seen this month; adder, sand lizard, common lizard and slow-worm.
Early spider orchid and snake-head fritillary are early flowering but March seemed pretty early for both.