Just a quick update on what has been going on over the solent reserves, as I haven’t blogged for a while. It has been busy, though I think I always say that!
I haven’t manged to get down to Farlington to check the breeding birds nearly as much as I would have liked but it is a mixed bag from what I can gather. The two primary species, lapwing and redshank, seem to be on their third attempt. I am relieved to say that there are some larger chicks which look like they’re going to make it, but there are still some small ones and even lapwing on nest! Very late for this species.
Our major problem this year has been two ravens. They set up home on the marsh and I have personally watched them eat three chicks. They polished off the avocet nests too! This is a very complicated problem as there isn’t much you can do with them. On one hand its great Ravens are making a come back but not such good news for Farlington. There are also more crows around, which hasn’t helped.
To distract them I have been supplementary feeding them with dead things, eggs and tinned mackerel. I think that this has helped slightly, giving them an easier source of food.
Smaller birds seemed to have faired well at the marshes. A great number of linnets, whitethroats, sedge and reed warblers, reed buntings can be found around the edges of the marsh and skylark and meadow pipits can be heard singing from the middle.
Management-wise we have been busy with infrastructure improvements. We will be replacing the benches soon which have mostly seen better days. We will also start thistle cutting. This was very bad last year, taking over most of the north of the marsh. This year it is slightly better I am pleased to say. There is still a lot there but reduced. Our trouble this year is the later nesting birds. Given a few weeks we should hit it before it goes to seed and when the chicks are mobile.
We have also been busy on Hookheath. We have started cutting parts of it early, targeting the hemlock water dropwort (HWD). This is a brute of a plant and constituted the bulk of a couple of the emadows a few years ago. I tested one meadow last year, cutting early to see the difference. That field this year saw a much reduced cover of HWD and much higher diversity. I am hoping a few years down the line and it will look much better.
The first meadow is stuffed full of orchids which is a result!
Worryingly, very little butterflies have been seen or reported. Swanwick, usually a hub of butterfly activity, is very quiet. This seems to be the case everywhere. Hopefully things are just late and hopefully this doesn’t effect them too badly.
Fingers crossed for a late rush in many of our species