and then a female.
The most interesting bird was a lesser redpoll that had already been ringed, what is more not at Blashford so it was a control, it will be interesting to see where it has come from and how long ago it was ringed.
When I opened up the Ivy North hide I once again saw the bittern, I had thought it might stand out against the heavy white frost on the vegetation, it did but not as much as I had expected as it's back was quite heavily frosted. This is testament to the amazing insulating properties of the feathers, a bird maintains a higher body temperature than we do and yet a frost could form on the back feathers, quite remarkable.
I spent much of the day burning up rhododendron, I do not often have fires, in fact I almost never have them, most cut trees etc are just too useful to waste in this way and burning sterilises the ground and results in nutrient rich patches that tend to grow nettles and little else.
One of the ringers mentioned the Avon Diary website this morning, it is based around Somerley Estate and although with fishing as it's main focus, interesting in itself as it gives a different perspective, it also has a lot about wildlife and bird sightings. A recent post has a good bit to say about alien species, something I had covered here on occasion. They are a huge problem in the valley as almost the world over and man made habitats often encourage them, a lot are very good colonists so disturbed habitats are often full of aliens. Of course some arrive by accident, but most were originally brought here deliberately even if they "escaped" thereafter. The rhododendron I was clearing today was planted, probably as ornamental game cover, during the early years of the last century as it was on estates all over the country.
The various plants were all imported and sold by the horticultural trade and later thrown out when they outgrew their space. Canada and greylag geese were released for shooting but managed to avoid the guns, Egyptian geese escaped ornamental collections, American mink were set free in protest. American signal crayfish were released for profit, but not retrievable when the business proved uneconomic and lots of fish species were introduced officially and less so, for sport and profit. One thing that is sure is that those responsible for introductions or who profited by the importations tend to absent themselves when the problems arise.
We are now dealing with an environment that has been treated with reckless carelessness for generations and the costs are now becoming increasingly clear. We cannot turn back the clock, but we can surely learn some lessons and where possible push against the tide, that is why I was burning up rhododendron today and will probably be doing so tomorrow, a small step, but in the right direction.