A very busy week again with no time for blogging till now, so here are some photos taken during the week.
Monday was spent pole sawing grey willow branches that were snapped by the wind and hanging over footpaths. We also cut some back willow branches that were shading out crab apple trees to give them space to grow. There are only seven crab apples that I know of on the whole reserve and giving them more light will help them grow larger, produce more blossom and fruit, nectar and food for a range of insects, birds and mammals. Thanks to Rob from the East Solent Reserves team for the lend of the pole saw.
I spent Tuesday morning hedge laying with the volunteers and the afternoon replacing broken planks on a bridge. Special thanks must go to volunteer Geoff who spent all day servicing, greasing and sharpening all the loppers, bow saws and fencing pliers used (and abused!) by the Thursday volunteers.
Wednesday was spent in a meeting, catching up on office work and purchasing new chainsaw chains. Two bitterns were seen at Ivy North Hide during the day but didn’t show when I went to lock up the hide but I did get close views of a water rail, little grebe and moorhen.
Thursday we had fantastic weather, a cold frost followed by sunshine. Bob recorded 222 pintail, 178 shoveler, c.800 wigeon on Ibsley Water during the morning. We then spent all day out doing habitat management with the volunteers at the western side of Ellingham lake, more hedge laying in the morning, and dispatching sycamore, cotoneaster and leylandii cypress trees with the chainsaw in the afternoon. These non-native trees and shrubs are being slowly phased out to make space for higher value wildlife habitat like native broad-leaved trees, bramble scrub and grassland. We also get the added benefit of being able to sell some of the logs for firewood to generate income to help us manage the reserve.
The light was beginning to fade at 4.30 when I locked the hides but I managed to photograph this male gadwall from Ivy South hide and the sunset over Ivy silt pond as I walked back to the Education centre.
Far better than my efforts are these pictures of the bittern in the sunshine yesterday by photographer Andy.
Unfortunately I spent most of today in the office, with the exception of moving a large pile of cut willow branches down to Ivy South hide with the quad and trailer but I’ll let Tracy explain what they’re for on Sunday.
Wildlife reported by visitors included two firecrests in birch scrub on the approach to Goosander hide, Slavonian grebe, ring-billed gull and two Mediterranean gulls on Ibsley Water.