I spent the day driving, or at least that is how it felt. I started at Farlington, never an easy place to get to for first thing on a Monday morning to meet a contractor who did not turn up. I then went over to Swanwick to meet the volunteers, Rob was leading the main group and I set off with two others to collect the new oak lectern signs for the reserve. Luckily they might have been made to fit into the van and we just managed to get all five in the back of the van in one go. Over the next couple of days they should be getting installed and looking splendid at various points around Swanwick.
The main party of volunteers were thinning pole oak and birch in an area which has some remaining blackthorn and hawthorn scrub and has been chosen as a potential area for reclaiming habitat for nightingales. These birds used to breed on the reserve but have been lost in recent years, probably mainly because of habitat deterioration, although the species is declining generally so what ever we do they may not return. Still scrub habitats are useful for a wide range of wildlife and so it will be used by many species even if the nightingales do not return.
I did go and see the team briefly, but then had to go to see a neighbour about a hedgeline, followed by a quick lunch and off to Farlington once more, this time to meet with our RSPB reserve neighbours. By this time it was raining and being out was not a pleasant thing at all.
Despite the rain I did see a distant female marsh harrier over the reedbed and out in North Marsh the pale-bellied brent goose in a large flock of dark-bellied brent geese.
I might have stayed at Farlington if the weather had been kinder, but instead I retreated to the office at Beechcroft and the computer keyboard before heading for home. People in the front office reported a mystery bird coming to the feeders by the front entrance. The most popular choice was that it was a stonechat, I confess to being doubtful, both on habitat grounds and that I have never heard of one on a feeder. My bet is that it was a brambling, if it returns we might get confirmation one way or another.