I haven’t posted a recent sightings for a few weeks so apologies for that. A mixture of holiday, illness and a crazy rush before Spring has left little to no office time. But, Spring is in the air! Well kind of. In between storms, howling wind and some very heavy rain we have had some quite pleasant days which make one feel that Spring may be very nearly about to be sprung. Certainly the crocuses and snowdrops have been quite spectacular. Just down the road from our offices the churchyard is a swathe of colour.
We have been very busy. Bird nesting season officially starts on the 1st of March. At this point we no longer cut scrub, chop down trees or do anything that may disturb our little avian friends from settling down and making more little avian friends. We therefore have to rush to get all the jobs we started finished and all the things that we thought that we had loads of time to do, done.
Our main focus has been to improve conditions for the nesting lapwing at Farlington Marshes nature reserve. We have therefore concentrated on reducing perching points for keen eyed corvids such as crows and magpies which sit atop trees in hedge rows and watch carefully for an unguarded nest or wandering chick.
We have reduced the height of the hedges between the point field and the main marsh and the main marsh and the hay field. This opens up sight lines, making it feel less enclosed and takes out the perching points. Hopefully this may squeeze in a few more lapwing territories and it is all about maximizing our space for our target species. My sincerest apologies to all the people on Tuesday wandering around the sea wall as we scared some of the birds away from the Deeps as we had to get in to finish the work that we had done on the hedge.
The last full survey done of breeding lapwing was in 2012 with 17 pairs identified across the site. Prior to this a survey was done in 2006 with 33 pairs. The aim this year is to do another full census. Hopefully the numbers will have remained stable since 2012.
On another note and excitingly, I found a water vole latrine in the deeps and a feeding station in the reed bed. I hope to do a more extensive survey in May, (the peak time for voles) but it looks hopeful that there may be a population hanging on in there. How they have survived I have no idea as the site must be completely isolated from any other water vole colony. It’s good to have some firm evidence that they are around.