This year has been a time of flux within the Trust. There have been a few changes and with Brexit, the future for conservation is most certainly uncertain. That in mind, the Solent team with all our volunteer groups has carried on delivering excellent work throughout the reserves. A huge amount of work has been undertaken and despite my position (reserves officer) undergoing several changes in the last couple of years, with myself being the 3rd in that time, the sites are all still strong and getting stronger. There are a few issues that we are confident that we will solve over the next few years but on the whole they act as safe refuges for some fantastic species.
Here is a little run down of some of the things that we have achieved:
The site was prepared for the wintering wildfowl, with hours of strimming and mowing from our volunteers. This has culminated with the usual large number of Widgeon and Brents grazing on the marsh. We have attacked the Bushes area to try and bring back some form of order and structure to this part of the site. This was a monumental job and has taken up a large part of the Farlington groups time so far this winter. We are nearing the end with it though and the benefits should be great.
We have seen excellent numbers of waders this year, especially good numbers of Avocet on the stream. The Brent geese are currently down in numbers and this may be to do with the thistle on the marsh and the late topping that I gave it. Growing conditions were also very vigorous this year so the grass is long in places.
Breeding birds on the main marsh were also down this year. No formal survey work was done due to staff issues but from ad hoc recording there were only a very small number of Redshank and Lapwing chicks and the Bearded Tits suffered from the late spring and wet start.
This is a particularly wet site and so we worked on here a lot early in the winter before we sank. We cleared and thinned the woodland around the central meadow, opening it up and giving structure to the woodland.
This site boasts an impressive Marsh Tit population and I am excited to find what it has in the spring when we will undertake some breeding bird surveys. It is relatively unrecorded in detail and has some huge potential.
We have cleared a huge amount of trees from the site, working in a couple of places that haven’t seen management works for a number of years. We have set up a log business to sell some firewood and the North East meadow has flourished this year. When I joined in July it was in full bloom and festooned with butterflies. It has become a real asset to the site.
This site has, like Hookheath, an excellent Marsh Tit population. I hope to hear a Nightingale this coming spring. They were lost from site several years ago but fingers crossed.We have been doing some specific works for them but his may take a couple of years to come into fruition. It has remained an excellent butterfly and dragonfly site, despite the huge number of carp in the lakes.
A small island of green in the depths of Portsmouth, this site has come into its own this year and that is all thanks to Jess from the education team. The events going on down there are fantastic. We gave the site a blitz early this Autumn and had some tree works done to preempt the storms that are coming in now.
This has been grazed as usual and a recent survey found excellent numbers of Snipe and Jack Snipe using the wet fields. We have yet to do any work on here this winter but have some planned in for the coming months.