I was working at Swanwick Lakes with the volunteers again today, despite the fine weather the season is relatively late and so we were still able to get on with what I would describe as winter work, tree and scrub clearance, although this may well be the last of it until next winter. The main task was the continuation of clearing behind the Center and on the island in Centre Lake.
Unfortunately the Canada geese are likely to occupy the island for nesting as soon as we have cleared it. Although they are quite attractive birds in their own way they do not really belong here and are very aggressive in the nesting season often chasing off or even trampling the nests of smaller birds.
The paired up geese were not the only signs of spring being just around the corner.
The hazel catkins are also out now, the familiar long male catkins are loaded with pollen.
The much smaller female flowers which will produce the nuts are much less obvious and often go unnoticed. Hazel trees have both male and female flowers on the same plant.
Looking closely at some of the tree buds I saw that a few on the ash were just starting to break.
The saying about this is “Oak before ash, we’re in for a splash, ash before oak, we’re in for a soak“, we had enough of a soak last year so I hope it is wrong as the oak buds are still tight shut!
Also not yet breaking, but a great colour were the buds of the alders.
One other task done today was to put up some of the new nest boxes, in fact this was not before tim,e and some were being visited by prospecting blue tits before the afternoon was out.
There was not a lot of wildlife on show, highlights were a fly over grey wagtail, an assortment of small finches in the birches including siskin, lesser redpoll and goldfinch and marsh tit and nuthatches at the feeders.
I came across the clump of fungi below on an old log.
At the end of the day I was looking at the bank behind the Centre when I noticed some plants of a garden from of the native yellow archangel, this might not seem to be something to be concerned about, but in this case I think we should try to remove it. The plant is a variegated form and quite attractive, but it is spreading fast and is very vigorous. It is an interesting example of a plant that owes success to our modern suburban ways. It spreads vegetatively, rooting at the nodes and not by seed. This might seem a bad idea as you would expect spread to be slow, but it is very vigorous and grows well almost anywhere, so gardeners had lots to give to one another. It quickly got around and then escaped over the fence, or was thrown and got out into the countryside where it is now spreading fast smothering naive species as it goes. As bit to plant evolution it is perfectly adapted to the modern world and we have been key to its success.