Saturday, 4 June 2011

The Projects are ending.

This last fortnight has been quite a busy time on the Reserve with many people coming and going, board meetings and Magnus and I trying to finish off all of our “Spring Projects” before he departs this weekend and leaves the throne to me. The main projects we have trying to finish are Farmland Breeding Birds surveys, Wetland Surveys (WeBs), Nest boxes, Hooded Crows, Starling project, Ortolan Buntings and complete counts of wildfowl clutches on the reserve (Much harder than it sounds with such a massive area of reed, pools, field and marsh when there’s only 2 of you. I would say “There’s not enough hours in a day” but it doesn’t go very dark so there probably is!

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Ortolan Bunting habitat, above left is a normal small stand of trees and right is a piece of set aside which the farmer has been paid to leave unsown, this is because apparently Ortolan’s prefer “black soil” to feed and breed in. Our studies however suggest otherwise.

Anyway, we’ve finish with many of these and some just have a few bits and pieces to tidy up, Some Starlings are having second broods (Making my life difficult), Ortolan Buntings need to be monitored throughout June and into early July (we’re trying to locate pairs and nests – If anyone has tips on nest finding please share them). The Wetlands surveys are now finished as are the Farmland BBS’. The Nest boxes continue due to many pairs of Pied Flycatchers still on eggs so I’m not complaining about that, also a mystery nest which I hope somebody can help out on. (Think it may be Spotted Fly? but it’s in a normal nest box.

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            Spotted Flycatcher nest?

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Very bad picture of a very smart Marsh Tit chick found in the final nest box of the lot; a very nice little “ringing tick”.

The crows are about done and yesterday when checking the final un-climbable trees we managed to see many large young in the nests. We were also lucky enough to find a newly fledged youngster on the ground. This little fella gave me one of the nicest ringing experiences ever, when after releasing him he decided he would sit, call and preen on my arm for a good 5 minutes. He made all the long hours of straining my neck back in April worth while and made me realise how much of a privilege it is to ring birds.

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Confused Hooded Crow juvenile.

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I tried to release him…


Mystery Insect

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Finally we have the mystery insects, these things have turned many trees totally silver this week and I’m not quite sure what they are. The white film they cover the trees in feels like paper and is very strong stuff. I think they may be some sort of Moth Larvae? Either way I saw a cow pierce the film on a tree yesterday and enjoy eating thousands of grubs that fell all over her face. NICE

if anyone can help with anything on the Blog please comment :)

Thursday, 2 June 2011


Magnus and I had a little competition throughout May to see who could see the most bird species on the reserve. It came very close and I’ll give Magnus credit for finding some great birds and sharing them with me (I’m sure he’ll do the same for me) but in the end the English man won, Magnus took defeat well and will be punished accordingly this weekend. The punishment has changed from Hair dye, to beer buyer and now final we “agreed” on a Naked Jump into the Canal on a Saturday afternoon at a famous tourist attraction. I look forward to Magnus jumping from a small bridge into the deep murky waters below and I think he looks forward to it more so. The Final scores were 139 to me and 136 for Magnus. The best birds involved were 2 Red-Footed Falcon (Male and Female), Corncrake, Spotted Crake, Penduline tit, Black Kite, Red-Necked Phalarope, Honey Buzzard and Goshawk for me and Magnus was lucky enough to hear Great Snipe displaying on one of his wetland surveys. Between us we saw 146 Species on the reserve in one month and others saw birds that we both missed. It’s funny how it came to a close with the only species separating us being very common, Magnus failed to see (Or overlooked) Dunnock, Wren and Long-eared owl. The former 2 were very often in voice throughout the start of May and the latter is nesting nearby the house. It was a fun competition with excitement to the last, seeing 7 new species in the final 2 days. I’ll post some pictures of birds we saw at a later date.