Tuesday is volunteer day at Farlington Marshes, clearly the almost invariably good weather experienced by volunteers at Blashford has not travelled with me. Yesterday the Swanwick volunteers were rained off and today we carried on despite occasional heavy downpours. Thankfully the strong wind kept the clouds moving fast so we did not really get wet.
I decided that trying to work in the open ground in middle of South Marsh was not a good idea and we cleared bramble in the Bushes instead. The Bushes area is very good for small birds, both for breeding and for migrants at this time of year, the area has lots of berry bearing plants such as hawthorn and, especially, brambles. Unfortunately brambles spread very quickly so keeping them in check to retain a mosaic of bushes and grassland needs constant work. To this end we worked to cut back several of the clumps by about one metre around the edge. We also opened up holes in the middle of several clumps to provide more edges and shelter for insects and birds. The net result is that the brambles should cover less of the grassland but there should actually be more edges and sheltered spots for wildlife.
As a result of spending most of the day working with the hedge trimmer, I missed what seems to have been the bird of the day, a marsh harrier reported in mid morning. Perhaps surprisingly, the sighting of the day was of a butterfly, a clouded yellow which flew past us just as we stopped for lunch, my first one this year. We also saw a good few other butterflies between the showers, including small and large white, speckled wood, red admiral and small copper.
Other birds today were rather few, a small but steady passage west of swallows, a wheatear, a few yellow wagtails with the cattle and a scatter of warblers in the Bushes, including chiffchaff, lesser whitethroat and blackcap.