By Caroline Steel, former Head of Conservation at Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.
Spring is bringing in some more unusual birds to West Common, spending a little time here before settling on a suitable nesting site. Last year was the first time I’d ever seen Little Ringed Plovers on the common: this year a pair has arrived earlier, and have been feeding around the edge of the ephemeral pond near Mitchell Drive. My picture isn’t great as I didn’t want to get too close as the dog was with me. They may well disappear completely if there is too much disturbance.
Another bird to watch out for is the yellow wagtail: there were quite a few sightings of this colourful bird last spring. It is a similar shape to the pied wagtail, frequently seen on the common.
Skylarks have been singing for some time now and their song always makes me feel cheerful. They will be thinking about breeding soon, but will be wary of potential disturbance. They won’t nest close to the edge of the common, the pond or wooded patches as the trees provide vantage points for crows and other predators: those concerned that their dogs might prevent birds from nesting need not worry if they keep to the edges. The birds will avoid areas near the main paths too: I keep my dog on a short lead when on paths in the middle of the common in spring and summer as he would certainly be seen as a threat to any ground nesting bird.
Other birds regularly seen at the moment include herons (which nest in Hartsholme Park), kestrels, buzzards and many more. Swallows have been seen at Whisby Nature Park already, so it shouldn’t be too long before they arrive here along with house martins and swifts.
You can report bird sightings in Long Leys, West Common or the West End at Bird-Survey.