It’s been just over a month since I last posted and what a busy month it’s been. I have not really lifted my head and my view has either been through the windscreen of a tractor or the front end of a brushcutter. My body is broken but we have got an outstanding amount of work done.
This has really all revolved around sorting out farlington for our rapidly returning birds. A week or so and the Brents will be returning, in small numbers at first but we should start seeing the first few pioneering geese coming in. Widgeon and Teal are already turning up and the waders have been fantastic. On a high tide the lake has good numbers of Black Tailed Godwits, Grey Plover, Dunlin and Redshank. Many of which are in their breeding plumage still. The Grey Plover looking especially resplendent and worth a wander just for these. There has also been a number of more unusual birds around, Spotted Redshank, Garganey, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtails, Hobby, Peregrine to name but a few and of course, we had our american vagrant for a bit. A Pectoral Sandpiper showed up for a few weeks. It drew in a good number of birders, who I hope will remember how good Farlington is and come back for some more.
So, we’ve been mainly cutting grass for the past several weeks, much to the despair of my volunteer teams, who haven’t uttered a word of complaint in their valiant efforts to rid the marsh of thistle and fleabane and get the grass to a suitable height. I’m sure the image of a rake or a brushcutter is keeping them awake at night in a cold sweat. What we are aiming for is a nice grassy sward, short but with a fresh autumnal flush ready for the geese to arrive and take full advantage.
You can imagine with the last months weather, any grass cutting, (which cannot be done effectively in the rain) has been pushed back and back and any that has been cut has grown so vigorously that it will be in need of a cut again. The thistle is putting up a strong offensive and I have topped most of the marsh at least twice and I am currently on the third round in the attempt to wear it down. Some of our other sites are still awaiting their hay cut, a month behind schedule as there just hasn’t been a week of stable weather. This has all been compounded by a continual cycle of broken equipment. As I write this, the tractor is sitting in the shed with several bolts missing from it’s wheel.
But things aren’t all bad. We are getting there and we will be ready for autumn. I’m looking forward to a brief lull where we drop off from the grass cutting before we enter the full force of the winter works. I will spend this time wandering the reserves to see what the new season has to offer. Autumn has to be one of the best, with a change over of migratory species, anything can turn up! A lovely couple of hours yesterday at Farlington saw a Ruff, several Greenshank, three Spotted Redshank and two Little Stint as well as a number of Wheatears. Good stuff.