January

There are few flowers to be found, but gorse is nearly always in bloom and common whitlowgrass (a tiny white flower), winter heliotrope, groundsel and daisies may be seen from late January. During warm weather some of the early butterflies may be tempted to emerge from hibernation, look for brimstone, small tortoiseshell and peacock. A few bumblebees and moths may also be on the wing on milder nights such as herald and angle shades.

Birds of prey usually present are merlin, marsh harrier, sparrowhawk and peregrine, as well as barn and short-eared owls. Offshore, great crested grebe, red-throated divers, gannets and guillemot may be fishing and great rafts of common scoter may be swimming in long black lines.

If the winter is cold many birds may arrive, so flocks of white-fronted geese and many ducks, especially wigeon, shoveler, teal, and pintail may be present, a rare one to look out for being the smew. At the same time flocks of birds may depart such as golden plover and lapwing.

On fine days at the Beach Reserve there may be displaying ringed plover, skylark and grey partridge. Hundreds of wading birds such as oystercatcher, golden and grey plovers, lapwing, curlew, dunlin, and sanderling can be seen on the shore or roosting inside the fenced areas (along with hundreds of ducks on all the different pools).

At Castle Water, especially near the viewpoint, there may be wintering stonechats and chiffchaff. In the reeds there look and listen for Cettiā€™s warbler, water rail and bearded tit. The hide at Castle Water (close to the castle) is excellent to get good views of bittern, ducks, geese, gulls and some waders, including ruff.