This afternoon I was amazed to see a Great Grey Shrike on the reserve, the first time this species has been recorded. It was perching on lone trees left standing after this year's conifer clearance, part of the ongoing heathland restoration programme. A scarce autumn/winter visitor to the UK, Great Grey Shrikes visit open areas, including heathland and need perches from which to hunt. Just 2 months ago the area where I saw this bird was covered in mature conifer plantation and would not have provided the right habitat . So pleased that our habitat restoration work has given another species a home. The shrike was a long way off in the top of a tree but I managed to get a photo with my point and press camera.
In just a few days we've had some amazing records of wildlife at the reserve.
Earlier in the year with our neighbours from Sussex Wildlife Trust's Eridge Rocks we cut and hung up some oak branches on the reserves. That might seem a strange thing to do but we were looking for evidence of the Olive Crescent moth, one of RSPB's priority non-avian species. The larvae of this moth feed on withered oak leaves so we were trying to replicate their food source. On 15 October Tony Davis from Butterfly Conservation joined the RSPB and Sussex Wildlife Trust volunteers to supervise checking the leaves for signs of the larvae. It wasn't long before the first one was discovered and we went on to find quite a few more which suggests that the Olive Crescent is well established on both reserves.
Tony demonstrating the survey method
An Olive Crescent Larva on a Withered Oak Leaf
Last week we completed the October survey of all of our Dormouse nestboxes and found 32 animals, the largest monthly total since we started our monitoring programme 3 years ago.
On 19 October the Saturday conservation work party volunteers had the privilege of seeing a flock of 30 Woodlark on some of the restored heathland areas. Birds were perching on log piles and on mounds, tumbling together in the air and bathing in small pools. There were even snatches of song. Woodlark are one of our target species and the first birds returned last year in response to the habitat restoration programme. To see such a large group was very exciting indeed.
And I shouldn't forget that a Kingfisher was spotted at the Decoy Pond on Friday. What a week in the short history of Broadwater Warren!
We've completed two thirds of all the open ground creation at Broadwater Warren. The final third of the open ground will be created over the next three years. This ambitious project involves removing pines that were planted on this previously open ground. As we remove the planted pines, the heather seeds germinate and the land springs back into life. The result will be a nature reserve that is roughly 50% woodland and 50% heathland. It will be teeming with wildlife and an amazing place to visit. In the areas cleared over the last 3 years the native heather is flourishing. Woodlarks, tree pipits, skipper butterflies and honey bees have all returned to make it their summer home.
The work starting this year.
Ordinarily, a forestry company would harvest these trees and replant with more trees, but we're not going to re-plant, as this area used to be open. It was first planted in 1952. We're going to clear the ground of brash and give chance for the dormant heather seeds below to germinate.
For safety and security, some of the paths are going to be closed over the next couple of months, as the work takes place. The main paths from the visitor car park will remain open. The nature trail will remain open.
If you have any questions about the work or the RSPB's long term project to bring the wildlife back to Broadwater Warren, do please contact us on 01892 752430 or via firstname.lastname@example.org