Rob and I went to Blashford Lakes today to clean out and refill the sand martin bank holes. Sand martins are one of the very earliest migrants to arrive and the first could be with us in the next week, so the colony needs to be ready, hence our visit. Blashford still does not have a Reserves Officer, although this should be rectified soon with a bit of luck and so can be short of hands to get some tasks done. We were not working alone though, we had two shifts of volunteers to do the fetching and carrying for us, leaving us free to stand in the freezing water all day!
The holes are cleaned out every year and refilled with fresh sand, this cleans out the nest parasites and allows the birds to dig a fresh tunnel, but it does involve quite a bit of work.
Each hole has a small render lip that has to be removed, then the old nest is dragged out with the aid of the patent Blashford sand martin nest remover, then the remaining sand is rammed to the back of the metre long pipe and phase one is complete.
Then each hole needs to be filled almost to the end with new sand and a new lip of render made and fitted.
In all we did about 200 holes and got very, very cold feet, but hopefully the sand martins will appreciate our efforts. A big thank you to everyone who helped out.
As a result of being pretty busy wildlife sightings were rather few, I did have a quick look at Ivy Lake first thing in the vain hope of seeing any, or all of, smew, green-winged teal or ferruginous duck, the result was a blank. I did get great views of the 2 black-necked grebes on Rockford Lake which were very close to the path. As we finished work a pair of goosander flew into Ibsley Water.
The afternoon was a good bit brighter and even quite pleasant as the sky cleared, this was welcome after a very dull cold morning, but a bit of a worry if it leads to a frost that causes the new render to fall away. It still feels very like winter even though the spring migrant birds are only days away and the wild daffodils are out.