Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Volunteer Effect

It was Thursday, so it was volunteer day. With the lake levels still quite low we took the chance to cut some more willows from the shore of Ivy Lake. The area we are cutting is one of the very few shallow flooded areas on the reserve, at least at winter water levels, so a rare habitat on the reserve. The willows have invaded and are drying the area out, so we are clearing them to restore a marsh/fen type habitat. The picture below shows the team a little while after we started work, when the lowest growth had already been removed.
And the effect of seventeen volunteers working for about an hour and a half was.....
The volunteers really do make a huge difference to the reserve, on my own I would hardly scratch the surface of large tasks like today's. Another example of their handiwork was the layering of the spindly willows between the Goosander and Lapwing hides. The upper picture shows them working on a cold January day last winter.
The same area just eight months on and there is now a low dense thicket of willow, great cover for small birds and well sheltered for insects. Layering the trees keeps the mass of the timber and the maturity but produces the low thicket that makes such good cover.
In other news, there were something over a thousand house martin gathered over Ibsley Water early on this morning, I had a look for potential red-rumped swallow, I have always hoped to pick one out, but failed again. Later in the day I gather one flew over Sway, not too far away, so my hope may not have been so fanciful. There were a few sand martin and a very few swallow as well. Rather more surprising was a group of 8 dunlin which flew over heading north, a couple of common sandpiper completed the picture.
At the Ivy North hide a juvenile sedge warbler was a nice sighting, other migrants seemed to be restricted to a few chiffchaff. I am due to do the first wildfowl count of the "winter" tomorrow so perhaps there will be more to report.

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