A week for wildlife… and it’s only Wednesday

This week has certainly been a busy one so far, with holiday events and some amazing wildlife spots. On Sunday our regular Wildlife Rangers group met once again and helped prepare for our October Half Term Wild Days Out, which had a mammal tracks and signs theme. They carefully prepared 16 Longworth mammal traps, filling them with warm bedding and some tempting sunflower seeds which would hopefully appeal to any passing small mammals. We decided to try our luck and popped five outside in the vegetation around the Education Centre, to check again the end of the session.

After a phone call from Edie’s mum, we then hot-footed it over to Tern Hide for a great view of the osprey which was once again back on the perch – thanks Lynne! The osprey has continued to perform all week and appears to be quite at home at Blashford. Thank you to David Cuddon and Steve Michelle for emailing in some great photos:

Osprey by David Cuddon

Osprey by David Cuddon

Osprey by Steve Michelle

Osprey by Steve Michelle

After watching the osprey we began our task for the day and started to pollard the willow in our main osier bed. The willow harvested is very flexible and will remain so for a few months after being cut, so is great for a variety of craft projects such as basket, wreath and bird feeder making. In addition, the withies are perfect for planting to create living willow sculptures. Whilst we use the willow with school and community groups and on courses, there is always plenty left over which can be sold, for a donation, to schools, groups and private individuals. If you are interested or know someone who may be, please do let them know and get in touch with us (01425 472760 or BlashfordLakes@hiwwt.org.uk).

Jess pollarding the willow

Jess pollarding the willow

We decided to put some of the thinner cut withies to good use and had a go at making bird feeders:

Five willow withies placed in a wooden block

Five willow withies placed in a wooden block

As the weaving continues, the hole gradually gets smaller

Weaving the withies round: as the weaving continues, the hole gradually gets smaller

Our finished feeders, out of the block and complete with handles and a suet and bird seed fat ball

Our finished feeders, out of the block and complete with handles and a suet and bird seed fat ball

After finishing our feeders we made further use of some of the withies, carefully whittling them into toasting sticks so we could enjoy a toffee apple over the fire after lunch. Thanks to Geoff for the apples – they were super tasty and definitely went down well with the group!

Carefully whittling a toasting stick

Carefully whittling a toasting stick

Toasting toffee apples over the fire

Toasting toffee apples over the fire

After some more pollarding, we went back to the Centre to check our mammal traps and were thrilled to discover one had closed in the short time they’d been out, so keeping our fingers crossed we carefully emptied the contents of the trap into a tank to discover this little bank vole:

Bank vole

Bank vole

Confident we would catch something on our Wild Days Out we carefully released it back into the undergrowth. All in all we had a varied day!

Other great sightings this week included this male Redpoll, photographed by April Dale on the niger feeder outside the Woodland hide:

Redpoll by April Dale

Redpoll by April Dale

But the sighting of the week definitely goes to Phil West who was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time on Tuesday and got some fantastic views of the otter from Goosander hide. Thanks Phil for sharing your photos with us!

Otter by Phil West

Otter by Phil West

Otter by Phil West

Otter by Phil West

We’re all keeping our fingers crossed for such a close encounter, but sadly Jim and I didn’t have any luck when we called in at Goosander hide today, although that may have been partly to do with the 24 excited children we took with us. They were fairly quiet…

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