A small rearranged workgroup on saturday 16 Feb (after last weeks cancellation due to storm Erik) had a good turnout with a warm sunny morning . 2 new volunteers joined us and we got a fair bit done. 5 reconditioned nest boxes put up – there were a lot of very active blue tits and great tits, seemingly just waiting ! We continued to cut hawthorn taking them down to ground level and then bringing leaf litter in from the woodlands to improve the bio-diversity of what have been largely barren areas, we relocated some turf from the south lawn to the edge of the glades again will be interesting to see if that helps spread species, We also experimented with planting some willow whips to the left of the bench to see if we can establish a living screen to help view otter and kingfisher without disturbing them. We enjoyed frequent sightings of kingfisher (pair) good numbers of curlew flying up from the fields opposite and with the river low a little egret was on the river behind a gravel sand bar. No oystercatcher yet . Altogether a very enjoyable morning thanks to everyone for their efforts! Steve
We welcomed 25 walkers from the Burley Walking Festival on Saturday. Organised by David Asher the group joined us at the informal entrance at the Burley end and spent an hour on the reserve. With sunshine we had the best weather of the bank holiday bringing out a good number of speckled wood and brown hawkers, whilst the kingfishers didn’t make an appearance we did have good views of post-breeding curlews in the field opposite. Thanks to Steve Peel who have an impromptu talk to the group on the mini-meadow and grasslands.
Earlier in the day, Mick Brear had good sightings of male and female kingfishers by the bench, we also had 4 brown hawkers, a pair of little egret flying up river and great views of a brimstone feeding on knapweed. Its been a bumper summer for blackberries which are now just passing their best
A big thank you to the Open Country team whose Friday work group visited us for the second time this year. Their March visit was on one of the coldest days of the year with a windchill making it feel more like -6C. Their visit on 3rd August proved very eventful weatherwise as well, it started off hot and very muggy, then after lunch and cakes by the river ( it was one of the groups birthdays ), we had torrential rain/thunderstorm. The riverside trees provide shelter for about 15mins before the heavens opened. We retired to the mini bus to wait for the rain to stop.. and which point another cake appeared! We then went back for another 1hr –a determined lot, these guys. We managed to clear a lot of bramble from the orchid meadow. Thanks to Steve Peel for popping down and Diane for helping out (sorry you missed the beetroot cake)
A busy weekend , Sat 16 June we were at Ben Rhydding Fete, where we promoted the reserve to the local community, alongside the great work of WNS, hedgehog records and woolly bear caterpillars! Am sure we will get a few more visitors especially as its peak orchid time, and may be a few more volunteers ? Thanks to Debbie, Dave, Catherine, Phil and Karen.
Sunday 17 June, we welcomed a visit by 24 walkers from Burley Walking Group organised by David Asher . We timed the walk to coincide with peak orchid time and they didn’t disappoint. Around 10 or so of the walkers hadn’t visited the site before so it was great to introduce some new people.Whilst there was no kingfisher, there weer 10 or sand martins and a female goosander and 3 young on the river gravels. There were good numbers of damsels, a couple of speckled woods and a dingy? skipper
This female pheasant was spotted on the reserve on the 31 May, its a white bird – not albino ( as can be seen but its normal coloured iris). These birds are believed to be “genetic throwbacks” – although some folk believe they are “marker” birds used by gamekeepers to locate flocks. The bird was covering 2 chicks before I inadvertently disturbed it. My initial view was that it had done well to survive to breed, but then again given its size its only likely to be predated by a fox!
A brief afternoon visit produced a good variety of birds including 3 goosander and a pair of oystercatcher on the fence posts on the opposite bank. With a singing chiffchaff and the lambs bleeting in the field opposite it definitely felt like spring. On the reserve the primroses on the bank were coming into flower and kingcup in the ditch were just coming into bud.
Sand martins now number over 50, the best we have had for many years. The blackcaps and chiff chaffs have now been joined by willow warblers. With the river being so low the gravels and muddy banks have attracted a pair of redshank and a pair of common sandpiper. A female sparrowhawk was around I assume targeting the blue, great and long tailed tits and dunnocks ,, since we don’t have any sparrows! A young duckling was calling from the top of the bank between the river and pond, hopefully it was located by its mother before being spotted by the sparrowhawk. Steve