Swanwick in the Sunshine

It was a great day to be out and about so I headed out to Swanwick to look at tasks for the coming months. I had been into the office at Beechcroft first thing and when I went out to the car to set of to Swanwick I was greeted by the sight of a very smart male blackbird on the roof on the car parked next to mine.

blackbird

blackbird

This is a male of at least two and probably more years old, the very black plumage and all yellow bill being the signs of this.

When I got to Swanwick the Centre Lake was looking very good int he sunshine, even if it was partly covered in ice. As I started to walk around the shore a kingfisher flashed past and off through the trees.

Centre Lake

Centre Lake

The area just to the north-west of the lake has a large area of cherry laurel bushes, these are producing seedlings that are spreading throughout the wood to the detriment of the native flora and trees. We are very fortunate at Swanwick that we have very good growth of hazel seedlings, something that does not happen at many sites as deer tend to browse off the young plants. We would like to encourage the native hazel, along with all the native wildlife that depends upon it.

small hazel

small hazel

We have started to remove the smaller cherry laurel seedlings, pulling them up by the roots when they are small enough, like this one.

laurel seedling

laurel seedling

The bigger bushes, although many are more like trees, will take rather more than a firm pull, these will need felling and the regrowth from the stumps will need to be dealt with as well. You can see the problem the deep shade causes by the total; lack of any ground flora under the bushes and the fact that even on s bright sunny day I could hardly get enough light to get a picture!

deep shade under large cherry laurels

deep shade under large cherry laurels

I had a good look around the reserve at various jobs that will need doing over the next few months. The cattle have all gone now and they seem to have done a good job in the end, grazing of most of the grass but not poaching the ground too much. Poaching in this case does not indicate culinary activity but the trampling of the ground so that the surface cuts yup and starts to get turned to mud. Before they come back next year we will need to check and repair the fences, not that they are in a bad way but there are always branches falling off the trees here and there and staples get lost from the posts. One of the features of Swanwick are the old hedgelines, in some cases with boundary banks and ditches, these ould have been old boundaries, probably without fences but with hedges layed on the bank tops to keep livestock in. In most cases these have grown out as they have become overtopped by trees, the thorns have dies out or grown very tall. In some places the bank top trees show signs of having been part of  a hedge long ago, one case in point is this field maple near flat meadow.

field maple on old boundary bank

field maple on old boundary bank

The day felt definitely like winter, but there were still various reminders of autumn around the reserve, most fungi have gone now, but I came across a line of quite large ones in East Wood, although I have not yet looked them up to identify them.

fungus

fungus

beside the path by New Hill I also found a very colourful spindle, with a few of the fruit still clinging to the pods .

spindle

spindle

I had not had a really good look around East Wood before and I came across another area of cherry laurels spreading into the wood, so the task goes on growing. I also found a large area of very luxuriant hart’s tongue ferns including this particularly large one.

hart's tongue fern

hart’s tongue fern

During my wanderings I heard and saw the kingfisher on at least two further occasions on both New lake and Ben’s Lake. I also saw 6 gadwall, a cormorant and 2 grey herons. In the woods several redwing and both great spotted and green woodpeckers, at least 2 marsh tit and 2 or more buzzards. I was surprised that I did not see or hear any siskin or redpoll in the alder trees though.

Tomorrow I will be at Farlington, where I understand the Environment Agency will be finishing work on the seawall by the end of the week, so with any luck we will be back to something like “normal” by the weekend.

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