Monday and Tuesday are both volunteer days on the reserves, yesterday we were at Swanwick making a start on setting up a storage area for the wood we are removing from the north-east meadow.
I hope to get some cattle into this meadow next week, starting early in the season should mean they eat off some of the regrowth of small trees and seedlings, or at least that is the theory. We were lucky with the weather which remained fine and even sunny at times. There were signs of spring all over the reserve, close to the working area above was a flowering apple tree, possibly a crab apple but more likely one that has grown from a discarded eating apple core.
There are ferns unfurling all around the reserve, always good to see and something I look forward to each year.
By the Centre Lake the show of cowslips is particularly good at the moment , although some of them seem very large and I suspect the seed was of slightly dubious origin.
On the Lake the mallard brood is still growing well, she still has seven ducklings having only lost two since they hatched, a very good performance.
In the sunshine we saw a few large red damselfly, lots of bee-flies, including some dotted bee-fly and at least one green tiger beetle. A cuckoo was singing nearby and a pair of treecreeper were feeding young somewhere near our work site.
I went on from Swanwick Lakes to Blashford Lakes to try to get the tern rafts out onto Ivy Lake with Ed. We had some problems with the wind and a slightly poor battery, but we did get two in place by six o’clock when we gave up for the day. I moored the first raft and almost immediately four common tern flew over and circled, two then landed on the raft and two flew off, within minutes fifteen terns were swooping over the raft. I then moored the second raft, shortly after which time there were almost forty terns wheeling about and periodically landing on the rafts. We had only seen the occasional tern fly over as we were getting the rafts ready, so how did they all know to come over so quickly. It certainly seemed as though they had been “fetched” by the first birds to see the rafts were out, but surely that is too fanciful? It should be said that the terns have almost all been on Ibsley Water for several days , but suddenly here they were all over Ivy Lake as a group and just minutes after the rafts were put out.
And so onto today, a very different day, with no hint of sunshine, rather windy and increasingly wet. A small but dedicated band of volunteers were working with me at Farlington to get our raft out onto the Deeps. This is a much more speculative affair than the , now well proven, common tern rafts at Blashford Lakes. The hope is to get little tern on this raft, not that little terns ever seem to have nested on a raft anywhere, but that was not going to stop us trying. The design includes a number of features that might help to encourage them, but only time will tell.
We did not see a lot of birds or other wildlife as the conditions were not great. A few swallow, a couple of sand martin and several swift forced, low over the Stream by the bad weather gave good views, also from there bearded tit flying back and forth indicated that they are feeding young in the nest now and a loudly calling water rail suggests that hey are also breeding in the reedbed again. the oddest sighting of the day was a moorhen swimming on the sea in Russell’s Lake, it got up and flew several times but remained out on the salty side of the seawall.