The martins have landed…

Sand martins that is, yesterday in fact, although they didn’t hang around long, not being there at the start or the end of the day, or indeed, this morning! Good to know that Spring is definitely here though and further demonstrated today by the little ringed plover on the bank east of Tern Hide.

Not sure if it has been around today, but earlier in the week the water pipit was still being reported – thanks to Steve Farmer for sending in this picture to :

water-pipit by Steve Farmer

Water pipit by Steve Farmer

An adult drake scaup was also seen again on Ibsley Water yesterday where up to two red kites have also been seen, possibly attracted to the road kill roe deer that has also drawn in raven – indeed yesterday there was a raven there throughout the day that hardly moved at all!

At the Woodland Hide visitors are still seeing brambling and lesser redpoll, and chiffchaff arrived earlier in the week – not sure when exactly but certainly on Tuesday morning there were chiffings and chaffings from all across the site! The winter wildfowl on the other hand have all but left us, as apparently, has the tawny owl that delighted all that saw him by perching out in the open south of Ivy Lake. He, I’m sure, is still there, but probably in a more discrete, and typical location. David Cuddon rose to the challenge set in one of my previous blogs and e-mailed this picture in last week (thanks David!):

Tawny owl by David Cuddon

Tawny owl by David Cuddon

Tomorrow see’s the penultimate “Pop-up café” of the winter so don’t miss out on Christine’s home-baked treats in the centre classroom from 10.30am-3.30pm.

And finally, if you have children or grandchildren aged 5-12 years don’t let them miss out on a “Wild Days Out!” this Easter – bookings are being taken now via the Trusts online shop for this holidays pond and river themed children’s activity days:

For 7-12 year olds on Tuesday 11th April:

For 5-8 year olds on Wednesday 12th April:

And a final finally, if you don’t have children/grandchildren or even if you do and you are wondering why they should have all the fun then wonder no more… Instead call 01425 472760 or email and book onto our “Pond and River Dipping for Grown Ups – Adults Only!” session on the morning of 1st April, 10.30am-12pm!






Spring Cleaning

As is usual on a Thursday it’s a conservation volunteer morning.  For most of the year it seems we’re involved in either cutting things down (coppicing willow and hazel and bramble bashing) or pulling things up (nettles, ragwort and Himalayan balsam). At this time of year, however, we’re a bit ‘betwixt and between’ as it’s now the bird nesting season – so no cutting down – and the nuisance species have yet to pop their heads up. So now is a good opportunity  to get some housekeeping chores done.   If there are two words that go together at this time of year then perhaps they are ‘spring’ and ‘cleaning’.

Some of the team set-to in cleaning off the cobwebs and dirt that has accumulated on the outside of the Education Centre – and much better it looks now.  Another team spent an energetic couple of hours removing patches of mud that had been washed in over the previous very wet months and accumulated in patches on some of the paths. Still more to be done, but the paths are now less gooey and more pleasant to use.

A project that has been on-going for several weeks has been the reclamation of a piece of artwork – a mosaic of stones in the shape of a ‘Hurricane’ aircraft – which had become heavily overgrown.  A small dedicated team have been tirelessly clearing away the unwanted growth with the result below –

The recently cleaned-up piece of installation art -  symbolic of an earlier use of the site when it was a WW2 airfield and 'Hurricanes' flew from here

The recently cleaned-up piece of installation art – symbolic of an earlier use of the site when it was a WW2 airfield and ‘Hurricanes’ flew from here.                                               Photo courtesy of Judy Hunt

I’m told the mosaic is ‘actual size’ which if true is rather frightening – it seems tiny – my admiration for those that flew in these machines is immense.

But it’s not all just cleaning and polishing.  As many gardeners will appreciate, what grows where and how strongly isn’t always what we want.  It’s much the same on the reserve. There are areas where some stronger growth would be advantageous and one such is by the Ivy South Hide where gaps in the hedge make visitors too visible to the wildlife on the lake. The solution has been to put in a ‘dead hedge’ and  plant some willow ‘withies’, which,  hopefully, will grow to obscure the view.

New screen of withies and dead-hedge by Ivy South Hide

New screen of withies and dead-hedge by Ivy South Hide

Talking of being seen, it will soon be time to put out the rafts for the common terns to nest on. One of the many threats that the young terns will face is predation from some of the larger birds on the reserve. To help them survive, each of the rafts has been provided with tern chick refuges – little wooden shelters that they can hide in, but where the gulls and corvids can’t reach.  Many of the original refuges have now exceeded their ‘best before date’ so a couple of the volunteers were making some new ones out of re-claimed pieces of timber.

All new all singing 'Designer' tern chick refuges...

All new all singing ‘Designer’ tern chick refuges…