We were blessed with another beautiful crisp and clear day today. With the colder weather it is certainly starting to feel a lot more like autumn now. The leaves are starting to turn and fungi are still sprouting up all over the place!
We had a great turn out of mums and dads for the fortnightly Buggy Walk this morning; they enjoyed a walk via Ivy Lake and the Woodland hide where some of the toddlers had great fun spotting the voles busily scurrying amongst the undergrowth in search of fallen seed. The feeders are really busy again now with chaffinch, greenfinch, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, goldfinch, dunnock, great spotted woodpecker and nuthatch. Over the last week we have had reports that lesser redpoll and siskin have also started to move onto the niger seed feeders in front of the hide.
Their circular walk took them back along the Dockens Water, one of my favourite spots in autumn as this stretch of woodland really comes to life in autumn colour. As I write this a visitor has just been in to show me a brilliant photo of a firecrest she had seen along the Dockens Water path. It is at this time of year that sea trout make their incredible trip up the Dockens Water to spawn; they usually wait in deep pools downstream for a period of heavy rain to aid them in their quest. The recent heavy rain seems to have done the job with reports in of sea trout upstream of Blashford so keep your eyes open for any more that might be making their way up the Dockens Water to spawn. Unlike salmon for most of them this is not a one way trip; instead after spawning they will head back out to sea to feed and will return to the river again next autumn.
I was lucky enough to get out the office today as I needed to accompany Jason from Wildlife Windows who was in to start sorting out our wildlife cameras as we are down to just one working camera out of a total of 4! Unfortunately he needed to take our last remaining pond camera away to fix so we are currently cameraless! Luckily we wont be missing much as the pond is still quite murky following Jim’s pond maintenance last week! We went out to check the camera on Ivy Lake, set up in the shallows that were created a couple of years ago when the volunteers cleared an area of willow. The hope is that the reed will spread into this area. I hadn’t been down there for a while so it was lovely to see how it is already transforming.
Bittern have been seen throughout the week; mainly in flight. On Sunday one was seen flying at 14.40 from Ivy South Hide; and on Wednesday one was seen flying into the reeds by Ivy North Hide at 14.45. The great white egret, kingfisher and water rail have also been sighted in front of Ivy North Hide.
Earlier this week St Nicholas school were in on the first of their 4 visits to the reserve. This is part of an exciting project where they will be visiting the reserve through the seasons and recording the changes they see through photography and datalogging. We were keen to include a pond dip into each session as we felt it would be fascinating to see how the variety of species and the size of individuals changes through the year. Sure enough pond dipping was the highlight of their trip as they delighted in their catch of dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, hoglice and shrimps and they got quite competitive in their search for newts. Most of the adult newts will have left the pond now to hibernate in the woods so we didn’t find any of them however we did find 5 or 6 efts. Hopefully these will be transforming into air breathing adults soon however if they haven’t managed to find enough food then they will stay as efts and over winter in the pond and if they survive they will carry on developing next spring.
Ponds are a brilliant addition to any garden as a fantastic habitat for wildlife. If you would like to learn more about building your own wildlife pond Jim is running a course ‘Wild About Ponds’ next Saturday 23rd November from 10am-1pm. To find out more and to book your place please click here.