March means one very exciting thing in the world of wildlife – spring has arrived! To celebrate this most marvellous month of the year, here’s my whistle-stop tour of the best March sights and sounds - and the RSPB reserves where you can see them. I hope it will whet your appetite!

Welcoming in the big five

Wheatear - L Bimson
March marks the start of spring migration, the arrival of some top travelers and the completion of some epic journeys. Some migrants just can’t wait to get here, including the traditional, early “big five”: chiffchaff, little ringed ploverwheatear, sand martin and garganey

Another March regular is also one of our most sought-after birds: the fantastic fish-eating osprey. Ospreys pass through the UK and return to their breeding sites this month, particularly towards the month's end, so keep an eye out for them on your visits to any RSPB wetland reserves. You might even be lucky enough to catch sight of one pausing to fish. Catch a glimpse of an osprey diving in to the water, emerging with a fish in its talons would get your spring off to a flying start. The world’s most famous pair of ospreys should be back at Loch Garten by the end of the month. You can keep up to date with their adventures on our osprey blog, or go and see them yourself.

Watery wonders

Godwits - L Bimson
Black-tailed godwits are on their way to their breeding grounds in Iceland. These birds are a different subspecies to the birds that breed on RSPB Nene and Ouse Washes in Cambridgeshire. As the month progresses, more and more gain their beautiful tomato soup-coloured breeding plumage, which is a little more extensive and brighter than the godwits that breed in the UK. Icelandic birds mass in their thousands at favoured sites such as the Ouse Washes where they pack onto the shallow floodwaters alongside the last of the trumpeting wintering whooper swans and water pipits coming into their pink and blue breeding plumage. Keep an eye out for newly-arrived garganey – our only truly summer-visiting duck.

Belfast's Window on Wildlife (WoW) provides stunning point blank views of Icelandic black-tailed godwits right outside the very comfortable viewing facilities - a unique viewing experience.

Chough -  L Bimson
Migrants are also returning to their coastal colonies as the seabird season swings into action. Visit Bempton Cliffs in East Yorkshire to enjoy its spectacular gannet colony alongside the noisy kittiwakesrazorbills and guillemots crowding onto the cliffs. South Stack, Anglesey has the added bonus of choughs and at Rathlin Island, Co.Antrim, you can also enjoy “golden” Irish hares. The Seabird Centre on Rathlin reopens on 24 March 2018.

Soaking up the rays

Adders basking  - Mark Ward
The rising temperatures and hazy March sunshine also brings some of our most elusive creatures out. After a winter spent hibernating out of sight, beautiful adders come out to soak up the rays under heather and open areas on south-facing banks and slopes where they can catch the full force of the sun. This is the best time of year to search for adders. Remember to watch from a sensible distance – use binoculars  – and do not stray from paths in case you accidentally surprise one. Minsmere in Suffolk has a special adder trail and it, and the adjacent heathland, is excellent  for them, as is Arne in Dorset -  the RSPB's reptile capital with every native species present! While you're at a heathland site on a sunny day, listen out for my favourite songster, the woodlark. It has a beautiful lilting song, delivered in the air.

Time to dance

Skydancing and food passing - Ben Hall rpsb-image

Don't forget to look up as well. There are skydancing marsh harriers galore at Minsmere in March – a sight you can also enjoy at several other RSPB wetland sites including Leighton Moss in Lancashire, as well as the wonderful sound of booming bitterns (and a good chance of seeing an otter fishing in the water). A visit to Somerset's Ham Wall will provide you with a very high chances of hearing, and seeing several of these shy reedbed skulkers with the added bonus of all three UK egrets – greatcattle and little!

Great crested grebes are now sporting chestnut head plumes and March is the best month to watch their weed dance mating display. Pairs rise up together on the surface of the water with weird guttural calls, with weed in their beaks, before pattering across the surface like ballerinas. Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire is a great place to watch this captivating performance.

Bittern- L Bimson

Spring is a time for new colour of course with wildflowers of all sorts coming into bloom everywhere many birds are at their finest and shelducks are looking super smart. Visit Conwy to enjoy its big springtime gathering of these unusual ducks and the chance of Clarke’s mining bees, spring wildflowers and migrant white wagtails.

Of course there is much, much more going on in March and each and every RSPB reserve, that you can visit free as an RSPB member, has its own special sights, sounds and smells. Many of my favourites are included above, but what are yours? Let us know by leaving a comment below, or e-mailing

Take a break and get closer to the action

Planning a visit to an RSPB reserve this spring to enjoy all the best wildlife action? Why not extend your stay with 10% of every accommodation booking will be donated to the RSPB by Hoseasons and so you can enjoy a great break, be close to all the action and help the RSPB's conservation work.