Thursday, 18 November 2010

Blashford Volunteer Magic

The magic of "Volunteer Thursday" worked again, when I arrived it was raining, by the time the volunteers were gathered it was dry and when we started working we were in sunshine. Of course, as we worked only in the morning, it rained again in the afternoon.

The cloudy night did yield a few moths including a December moth, not actually the first of the year but the first that I have been able to get a picture of. They really are fabulously woolly looking for moths, but if you are a nocturnal insect that is going to fly in mid-winter it pays to try and keep warm.
The volunteers were working near the Goosander hide today, we finally managed to get the screen by the hide repaired, this is a task that needed a minimum of three people and so had to wait until today. The open area near the hide was also cleared of invading birch seedlings and we cut and pushed over a number of sallows on the approach path. The stems are cut about two-thirds of the way through so they will continue to grow. The objective here is to retain the bulk of the tree but get them to thicken up, in effect we were mimicking a line of wind-thrown trees. This should produce habitat for breeding birds while retaining the mix of branch sizes, so it should be better for a wider range of wildlife than coppicing. In the sunshine as we worked, we had a red admiral butterfly sunning itself beside the path, the first I have seen for some while.

In between times today I had my first group of redpoll, admittedly only four, but they were feeding in the birch trees and might get onto the feeders before too long. I have heard mistle thrush singing a few times this week, but today I also heard a song thrush, not for long, just a couple of minutes, but in full voice none the less.

The first chiffchaff of the winter was reported today, although it is often said that some of our birds stay for the winter there always seems to be a period of at least three to four weeks when we have none around. The autumn migrants are with us until mid to late October, then there are usually none until late November or even the start of December. The long-tailed duck was still on Rockford Lake today along with at least 64 mute swan.

I ate lunch in the Tern hide, birds were few but the first winter female peregrine flew over the lake and the bar-headed goose was with the greylag flock. I got a rather poor picture of it when I returned later in the day, the bird was closer but the light was almost gone.
Towards dusk the gull roost included at least 8 yellow-legged gull and the adult Caspian gull was seen near the Goosander hide, there were also 2 common gull, which are not at all common at Blashford.

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