Monday, 22 November 2010

Reports, Ponds and Opportunities

First the late news, last Thursday a male hen harrier was seen from the Tern hide, possibly the first record from the reserve this autumn/winter. Then on Sunday an Iceland gull came into the gull roost, it was probably a second winter bird or very pale first winter. The number of goosander has also increased, to forty-one at least. I missed all of the above through either being elsewhere or just not at Balshford at all.

Now for today; from the Tern hide as I opened up there was a green sandpiper, a black-tailed godwit, 13 goosander (including 7 adult drakes) and 10 Egyptian goose. At the Ivy North hide a fine male bullfinch was in the willows beside the hide and a Cetti's warbler was singing loudly. Perhaps surprisingly there were also dunnock and song thrush singing as well as the usual robin and wren.

At the Centre 2 fallow deer does were a relatively unusual sight just behind the dipping pond, they do not often come south of Ellingham Drove. In the moth trap the catch was small but varied with brick, chestnut, scarce umber and red-line quaker.

Briefly by Rockford Lake, I could not see the long-tailed duck which seems to have left as it was not apparently seen over the weekend either. There were good numbers of wigeon, probably 300 or so and clearly more than a few days ago, I will be counting tomorrow so should have some figures to report then.

I spent a time this morning looking at the potential for making new ponds as part of the Million Pond Project. Our ponds will be of the ephemeral or semi-permanent kind, but then many of the rare species in the Avon Valley and New Forest live in just such places. One of the joys of working on a site that is mostly recently abandoned industrial land are the opportunities it offers for creating habitat features and experimenting a bit. Luckily much of the area that has become the reserve was not "over restored", we did not get deep layers of rich topsoil that promote the growth of rank grassland. A poor soil produces a much more diverse flora and so offers opportunities for more other wildlife, it will have some areas that are richer and some very poor, just what you need, variety. On the negative side we did inherit a lot of planted trees, often of dubious origin, but these can be thinned or converted to standing dead wood, more opportunities for wildlife.

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