A Skip, a Raft and a Beetle

I drove to Farlington in a grim mixture of rain and mist, not a good start to the day, but I needed to be there in good time as I had ordered a skip to try to thin out the rubbish from the yard. As I waited at the Building I saw a good variety of birds, the female marsh harrier of the other day was hunting over the reedbed and disturbed several bearded tits and a green sandpiper, the first I had seen on a while, then 3 avocet got up from the Stream and flew over to the Scrape. I was still waiting for the skip when the volunteers arrived, luckily it did turn up soon after. It took only a few minutes to fill and I think we will need at least two more. During the rubbish shifting a fine ground beetle was turned up,  I think it was Leistus spinibarbis.

beetle Leistus spinibarbis

beetle Leistus spinibarbis?

The main tasks of the day after skip filling was to try to construct a raft for little terns. Tern rafts have been made with success at lost of site, not least at Blashford Lakes, but they are almost always for common terns and as far as I can establish the one thing that is known about rafts for little terns is that nobody ever seems to have made one that has worked! This, of course, will not put us off, so sign recycled timber from our old murals from the underpass, we set about the task. By the end of the day we had the main structure complete and lot of thoughts about the details of completion for the next couple of weeks, next week a test floating will be first on the agenda.

Rob raft building

Rob raft building

We also completed and put out our ten bearded tit nesting “boxes” and are looking at shelduck nest boxes as the next project.

During the day we had several more interesting sightings as we worked including 3 spotted redshank, the most I have seen in spring for many, many years at Farlington and a party of 5 sand martin. Although sand martins are common migrants we don’t often see them in spring at Farlington as they tend to follow river valleys on migration.

After the volunteers had gone I went to check the salinity in the ditches in the north-eastern part of the reserve, as I suspected these ditches are saltier than they used to be, not necessarily a bad thing, but something I will need to keep an eye on. Incidentally I came across 2 water pipit, 2 or 3 jack snipe and best of all a brilliant male yellow wagtail. The last takes me onto 142 bird species in Hampshire this year.

I also found the cattle and eventually counted them all after they gave me a bit of a game of hide and seek in the Bushes.

cattle in the Bushes

cattle in the Bushes

The last bird of the day was another greylag goose standing very alert in North Marsh, it was a very orange billed bird and quickly flew off eastwards, another candidate for a wild bird perhaps.

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