Although it's been a bit chilly, spring is definitely in the air. Herons are quite active now and I have seen swans regularly flying over, possibly searching for a territory before breeding season. I have already heard Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming and just the other day I saw a pair in a tree behind the Saltpetre House. Woodpeckers have got wise to drumming on metal which is much louder than a tree, therefore the sound is carried much further. Our lampposts and the end of the Petrel rocket launcher have become favourites.

The Fallow deer have been rather relaxed, not seeming to mind too much that filming has been going on at the Mills and they even took to eating some potted plants in the night that were part of a film scene. This made the film makers rethink and they had to install some artificial plants instead. Our deer are quite inquisitive and not much goes unnoticed by them. When not investigating what's going on around the site they quite often pop into the buildings.

Spring is one of my favourite times of the year and I'm looking forward to seeing the rich wildlife at its most active again. Grass snakes will be out of hibernation as will newts, toads and frogs. The sound of the Cuckoo's arrival is heard every year along with Reed warblers arriving at the north end of the site. Both of these birds migrate from Africa and one of the cuckoo's preferences is a reed warbler nest to lay its egg in!

Robins seem abundant at the Mills, they come to the bird feeders on the window sills of Walton House. Here's a recent photo of one that's puffed up to keep warm.

Sticking with the bird theme a little more... I thought I’d feed the ducks on the frozen water, but this cheeky crow had no fear of thin ice and beat the ducks to it.

I'm hoping to get some more photo opportunities to share with you all soon, I'm always on the look-out, i just have to be lucky at the right time and place. Let's hope that the wildlife put on a good show this year.

Julie Matthews
Mills Nature Conservationist