We were at Farlington today doing a variety of tasks with the volunteers, but mainly refining the raft. This included another trial float on the Stream and a test of how much weight it would carry, not having any handy weights about Rob climbed aboard.
I am delighted to say that it floats! We did decide that it might need a bit more floatation though so it got an extra float. Then we tried to get an idea of how much stone we needed. Terns usually nest on shingle or sand so we need this to top the raft. However shingle is heavy stuff so we are using pumice which is much lighter. I have previously used this on common tern rafts at Blashford Lakes and it works well and the terns seem to like it.
The answer seems to be that we seem to have enough to cover the surface, although we will need a bund to stop it falling off the sides. Normally on tern rafts the edge is a wooden board, but the suggestion seems to be that little tern don’t like these, although as they have never used a raft I am not sure how anybody knows! Anyway we will not be using boards and I hope to use expanding builder’s gap filling foam. No idea if it will work but that is what this is all about, trying to see if we can come up with something that addresses some of the possible problems with existing designs. Who knows, it might even work.
The day was sunny so we did the butterfly transects. I did the one that goes through the Bushes, where there was no sing of any butterflies at all, however we did see a fieldfare. Fieldfare is never a usually a common species at the Marsh and this is one of my latest anywhere in Southern England. It was a bit of a day for unusual sightings of basically common birds. Near the building 3 jackdaw were on the grass by the Stream. Jackdaw is not a rare bird, they can be seen on the roof tops north of the A27 and fly over the reserve frequently, but they every rarely land. Also in front of the Building the mute swans were involved in a bit of a tussle as the local male was chasing off an interloping pair. However he chased them up onto the grass which attracted the attention of the cattle who could not contain their curiosity.