As usual a big thank you must go out to all the volunteers who came out to cut willow in the reedbed to the south-east of Lapwing Hide today. We had a great turn out of nineteen volunteers and managed to complete another section as part of our on going project of reedbed expansion and willow pollarding in this area. This benefits a range of invertebrates from wainscot and drinker moths, reed aphids and grass snakes, to birds like reed warblers and water rails. Hopefully in the future this area may be suitable for bittern and bearded tits, but this will depend if the reed and willow swamp remains flooded throughout the year, allowing invertebrate, amphibian and eel populations to build up, or at least a bit later as it currently usually dries out by late April. Bearded tits in particular feed their young on the larvae of mosquitos and non-biting knats. At present both bittern and bearded tit may turn up from time to time in the autumn and winter but are unlikely to remain for a long time in the spring.
Yesterday when checking the fire site I flushed 6 snipe from an area we cut with the Tuesday volunteers. Snipe will find winter feeding in the cut areas but move on in the spring when reed, hemp agrimony, soft rush, fleabane and nettles start to grow.
As the volunteers have worked so hard this year, we had a Christmas treat of baked potatoes cooked in the fire. A few kind volunteers even brought home made cakes and mince pies which disappeared very quickly. We packed up just before 3pm and made it back to the Education Centre just before it tipped down with rain.
When I unlocked the hides this morning I saw a raven fly over Ivy Lake, a kingfisher on Ivy silt pond and a firecrest between the Woodland hide and Ivy South hide. The bittern was reported at Ivy North hide again by a visitor today too.