Surely it cannot be long before the cold nights end and spring proper starts. This is obviously a pleasant prospect, but it always means a bit of a scramble to get the last of the winter tasks done. Today I was working with the volunteers to coppice willows around the ephemeral ponds beside the path to the Goosander hide. We did pretty well getting the whole job done in a single session. This is before…..… and this is more or less the same view afterwards.
Ephemeral, or temporary ponds are very important habitats for lots of species, in fact many species are found only in them. Permanent ponds are fine habitats but their long term residents tend to dominate and exclude many species. Fish, in particular, have a huge impact on many species which just cannot live alongside them. This is why the best garden ponds for wildlife are actually the ones that don’t have fish in them. This would also be true for larger ponds and lakes but in practice it is impossible to keep fish out. Many people will tell you that fish get in as eggs on the feet of ducks and this may not be impossible, but the overwhelming majority are put there by people. In recent times the main fish that people introduce seem to be carp, unfortunately one of the most damaging species in terms of their impact upon the aquatic habitat and other species.
The day continued with us dealing with a few unsafe trees near the Woodland Hide (sorry if we scared the birds away!), laying over a few old coppiced willows and filling in a couple of the potholes in the entrance track.
In wildlife news the bittern was seen again today from Ivy North hide and the Woodland was busy with siskin, lesser redpoll and brambling along with the more regular “locals”. On Ibsley Water I saw the Slavonian grebe as I opened up but could find no sign of the black-necked grebes, so perhaps they have gone. At the end of the day the ring-billed gull was again in the roost on Ibsley Water, along with several Mediterranean gull.
With a bit of luck the first sand martin will be with us within a fortnight and then spring will really be on its way.