Close encounter of the bird kind…

Luckily for us the rain held off today and didn’t get in the way of our monthly Wildlife Rangers session. We began by delving into the light trap, put out very kindly by Jim the night before, and had a go at identifying the catch using ID books and the very useful flying tonight page on the Hants Moths website.

Our catch included a couple of White Ermine and a Treble Lines, but the highlights were a Poplar Hawk-moth, Cinnabar and Buff-tip.

Poplar Hawk-moth, desperately trying to make it's way up Jackson's sleeve...

Poplar Hawk-moth, desperately trying to make its way up Jackson’s sleeve…

Cinnabar, who was so lively in the pot we decided not to re-locate him for a photo

Cinnabar, who was so lively in the pot we decided not to re-locate him for a photo

Buff-tip, expertly disguised to look like a silver birch twig

Buff-tip, expertly disguised to look like a silver birch twig

After placing our haul carefully back in the light trap to be released towards the end of the day, it was time to get stuck into some hard work and we headed outside. We spent the bulk of the session removing some of the lower branches from the pine trees along the edge of the lichen heath. It was definitely a team work job, with some cutting and some taking the weight of the branch.

Removing the lower branches on the pine trees

Removing the lower branches on the pine trees

Jackson, Cameron and James worked their way along the short stretch of pines, and what a difference it made to the light levels in the area directly behind. Hopefully this increase in light in the understory will encourage the growth of other species on the woodland floor.

An after shot of our hard work!

An after shot of our hard work!

We also cleaned and cleared around the Dockens Water sign, which overlooks the river – thanks Edie and Bella (and volunteer Geoff!) for doing a grand job!

A rather less overgrown Dockens Water sign - there is text on it!

A rather less overgrown Dockens Water sign – I know it looks blank, but there is text on it!

Our last job in this area was to remove some of the plants growing on the lichen heath, such as brambles, thistles and tree saplings (mainly oak and sycamore), to ensure they don’t continue to grow and change this fragile habitat, shading out the lower growing lichens and mosses. Zoe and Ross, with a bit of help from Edie and Bella and volunteer Christine, managed to fill two wheelbarrow loads with brambles and tiny sycamores.

Young sycamore

Young sycamore

Almost all of today's group!

Almost all of today’s group!

After a lot of cutting and plant pulling, we decided to head over to Tern hide for a spot of bird watching over Ibsley Water, where the swallows and swifts were on a feeding frenzy over the lake and the lapwing chick closest to tern hide was beginning to look more and more grown up. Sadly it didn’t venture close enough to the hide for a photo.

Bird watching in Tern hide

Bird watching in Tern hide

However, on our way back to the centre we had a close-up bird encounter of another kind, stumbling across a young Great tit who was having trouble flying, with one leg caught up in one wing. We very carefully picked him up and took him back to the centre, where local Wildlife Rescuer Mike Meeks kindly collected him from us. Mike is certainly very busy at the moment, with young birds fledging left, right and centre and adults paying more attention to finding food, rather than keeping a watchful eye out for predators. So thank you very much Mike!

We hope to see our young Great tit back at the reserve soon!

Poorly Great Tit chick

Poorly Great Tit chick

 

 

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