The bad oak

An ongoing job on the reserve at the moment has been cutting down Turkey oak (Quercus cerris) saplings and treating them with a herbicide. As the name suggests Turkey oak is a native of Turkey and Asia Minor and unfortunately is becoming very common in parts of Hampshire. It is a host to the parasitic wasp  Andricus quercuscalicis whose larvae damage the acorns of native pedunculate (Quercus robur) and sessile oaks (Quercus petraea) affecting their ability to reproduce. The native oaks support more species of invertebrates than any other British tree so it is really important that they continue to produce acorns.

Turkey oak can be identified by its whiskery buds and thinner, more deeply lobed leaves than the two native oaks.

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Whiskery buds of Turkey oak

 

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Leaves of Turkey oak

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Buds and leaves of native pedunculate oak

Yesterday I spent most the day removing young Turkey oak that were colonising the Lichen Heath to the north of Ivy Lake with volunteer Carol. A pretty satisfying task and it was good to see lots of redwing, a singing mistle thrush and more suprisingly a wood cricket nymph while we were out.

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Turkey oak invading the Lichen Heath. 

During the afternoon I visited the Woodland Hide and was pleased to see 8 redpoll, 5 brambling, 7 reed buntings and over a hundred siskin on the feeders and ground.

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Siskin and redpoll at the woodland hide.

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Siskin and redpoll feeding on spilt nyger seed

Today we did a waterbird count of all the lakes in the Blashford complex, not just the ones managed by the Wildlife Trust. We counted a total of 3856 birds including 183 pintail, 173 teal, 552 shoveler, 83 mallard, 24 goldeneye, 1164 wigeon, 360 coot, 443 tufted duck, 137 pochard, 425 gadwall, 67 goosander, 4 kingfisher, 38 great crested grebe, 2 black-necked grebe and 1 Slavonian grebe. My highlight was a stoat that passed just a couple of metres away from me carrying a bank vole near the viewing screen at the southern end of Ivy Lake, and then 10 minutes later amazingly another stoat ran across the path in front of me a hundred metres or so north of the first one. In three years at Blashford I’ve never seen a stoat there until today and I see two in one morning, brilliant.

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