Flowers, Ferns and Furry Nibblers

Bird News: Ibsley Watergoldeneye 3, black-tailed godwit 1, common sandpiper 1, peregrine 2. Ivy Lakereed warbler 3+, Cetti’s Warbler 1.

A very quiet day for birds and wildlife in general. The volunteers were in and made a number of small nesting rafts and dug a trench line. Hopefully we will be putting out the tern nesting rafts next week, assuming I have got the outboard motor back by then.

After getting off to a storming start the progress of spring has resumed a more sedate pace. The blackthorn blossom is just over and the very first few hawthorn flowers are starting to show, but the main flowering will not be for a little while yet, so the may should still be out in May. Also out now is Blashford’s pear tree, it has plenty of bloom, but unless there are good numbers of bees active there will not be much fruit.

pear blossom

In the Millennium Meadow the “cowslips” are flowering well, I put the inverted commas around them as many are of rather dubious origin. Several are very large-flowered, or orange and sometimes even red, this picture shows a few wild type ones next to a clump of larger flowered stems.

cowslips

In the foreground is a stem with the flower head bitten off, very probably by a deer as the meadow is now fenced to keep rabbits out. Elsewhere rabbits are the main grazers nibbling off lots of plants at ground level. This year is likely to be a good one for rabbits as they started breeding very early, many young were born in January and have been independent for several weeks now so will soon be breeding themselves.

Blashford bunny

Deer and especially the increasing numbers of fallow deer have a significant impact upon the reserve, especially their grazing of young trees and coppice stools. One way to reduce this is to pollard the trees so the growing shoots are high up and out of reach of the browsing deer, or at least out of easy reach.

willow pollards with remaining cut rods stacked below

The pollarded stems are now starting to grow vigorously and should produce a good crop of stem suitable for weaving and basketry, although there was rather little take up for the material this year, which was a disappointment.

When I went to lock up the hides I noticed that lots of ferns are starting to unfurl, at this stage of growth they form wonderful shapes and so not seem to suffer from the attentions of either deer or rabbits to any significant degree.

fern unfurling into a very fancy crozier

Others look more like furry snail shells.

ferns unfurling