Autumn starts here

Dew laden cobwebs

Dew laden cobwebs

There has been a definite freshness to the early mornings of late and anyone trying to get work done outside in the evening can’t fail to have noticed not only how much earlier it is getting dark now, but also how quickly, but this morning was the first of this season where upon opening Tern Hide Ibsley Water was obscured by mist. Having said that I was in there for about 20 minutes and during that time the sun burnt it right off so I could see across to the osprey platform and what, I hoped (looking through binoculars, not a telescope) was an osprey. Turned out it was a wood pigeon. Hey-ho.

Other autumnal offerings this morning include the beautiful dew laden cobwebs, some of which are pictured above, and the small aggregations of harvestman spiders on the hides like those below, so called because they are at their most mature, and therefore obvious, in the autumn – at the time of harvest:

Harvestman spiders

Harvestman spiders

As it happens no one else reported an osprey today either, and there were a good number of visitors here today who would have seen one if there was one around. There were plenty of common sandpipers around in front of Tern Hide all day and one of our volunteers also showed me a photograph he’d taken of a redhead goosander on the spit in front of Lapwing Hide this morning too. Elsewhere on the reserve the great white egret spent at least some of the day on Ivy Lake and in the shallows in front of Ivy North Hide.

I spent much of the day in the office working on centre admin and continuing preparations for a Forest School project to be held this autumn on Copythorne Common Nature Reserve I am coordinating. I did duck out for some welcome fresh air and sunshine across the middle of the day to cut some sycamore, the poles from which we will use for green woodworking activities at Copythorne this term. Generally speaking woodland management takes place in the winter when the sap is down and the tree’s are “dormant”, but on the basis that sycamore are considered a bit of a nuisance “weed” on nature reserves, they are fair game at this time of the year when other, native, tree species need to be left alone. It would be lovely to remove some of the larger sycamores as well, particularly in the semi-ancient woodland along the Dockens Water, but for the time being our woodland management plan has presumed against this on the basis that the increased light on the woodland floor that would result from the opening up of the canopy is likely to favour even more young sycamore tree’s rather than more of the native tree species, like hazel, oak, beech and ash, which would be more desirable.

It was while contemplating the woodland and searching for the next tree to “despatch” that I noticed just how much red currant there was. Red currant is common along the length of the Dockens Water both on the reserve and in the New Forest, but over the last couple of years the number of plants has increased quite dramatically, within the reserve at least, providing a tart welcome summer treat to both passing HIWWT staff and birds – the plant is growing in such profusion in places there is still the odd over-looked berry to be had even now!

Red currant understorey

Red currant understorey

And finally, another reminder that the volunteers will be “weeding” in front of Tern Hide between 10am and 12pm on Thursday this week and next.

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