Took a quick afternoon walk down to the hide. Good numbers of Shoveller showing and a few Pintails - Wigeon are still hanging about. Loads of Teal.
Dave showed up at the hide and amazingly spotted a male Wheatear in a distant ploughed field adjacent to the reserve - goodness knows how many hundreds of yards away! Made a mental note to get same make of scope - although rather attached to my old Kowa!
On returning homewards for tea, spotted a warblery bird in hedge about 7 yards away. Unfortunately did not have have binoculars and could only eyeball this bird. Kept up a gentle pace with it as it picked nonchalantly in the undergrowth - and because of its size, general dullness and lack of song, I put my money on a female Chiffchaff.
On arriving back on the marsh edge, I again saw a single Twite in the hawthorn bush in front of my house.
Unusual sighting in the garden this morning - mopping up remains of old stale loaf - Six Magpies. I have forgotten what precise momentous event they foretell in folk legend! Could it be that I am due to win the Lottery?
Calm Spring-like day with very little wind. Plenty of feeding activity here in the garden; Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Tree and House Sparrows, Green Finches and Great, Blue and Coal Tits. The Meadow Pippit seems to have taken up residence on the marsh in front of the house.
Blackbird heard singing well. These birds are great mimicks - 'our Blackbird' does a particularly good cat yowling and is not bad at a curlew either.
Have not yet heard Blackcap, Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler in the orchard but expect to do so shortly. Spring is late, definately.
We seem to have attracted a Moorhen http://www.flickr.com/photos/46441928@N07/4461495164/ from the Reserve to feed in the garden amongst the rest of the birds - quite a dominant animal and likes its own space.
The morning dawned perfect... wall to wall sunshine - no wind! We don't often get this sort of weather on the Solway. We decided to walk down the lonning to the the flooded meadows at the end, taking the digiscope, tripod and all with us - but got no further than the first pool on the right. We were immediately put to work by feeding Teal and Lapwings - all very tranquil and relatively near. Pairs of Teal were dabbling about in the flooded areas and the Lapwing were making use of the recently dredged up small islands. After having spent a most enjoyable hour watching and photographing, decided we had enough material and returned home for lunch.
The lonning itself produced two butterflies: a peacock and a small tortoiseshell - rather tattered specimens having just emerged from hibernation. Here's a note on bushcraft for those interested. If a butterfly, sitting in the sunshine, refuses to open it's wings - cast a shadow with your hand just slowly and gently to simulate a passing cloud. Wings should obligingly open!
Beautiful sunshine this morning. We set out to see what was happening on the farm.
Found the first action by the Natterjack Pools on the marsh front. Stephen can be seen here with the tractor setting up poles and wire to protect the pools from the grazing cattle which are to arrive soon.
Stephen then informed us that if we hurried we would just be in time to see ploughing in the Kale field, in preparation for sowing this year's oats and sunflowers - last year being a great success, the Kale being left to go through it's full growing sequence and seed this coming year. The fields sown this last year had proved to be a life saver for many birds in the area.
On the way along we passed work that had taken place to make an embankment to a ditch as containment of winter water levels. It also serves as a good viewing point along the length of that ditch from the path.
Looking through the screen to the second pool new Spring growth of the yellow Flag Iris was showing well.
Walked on to the hide at the end of the lonning and were greeted with the sight of three Hares infront of us, cavorting and being generally playful as Hares are wont to do.
Plenty of butterflies out this morning and also bumble bees who appear to appreciate the willow catkins. On returning, the tractor had, by now, moved on to a further field of bird seed crop out towards the Moss - performing the same task there. As the weather is drying up conditions are right for good deep ploughing. The wardens have to be opportunist here as the Reserve land is generally wet.
Day dawned a bit unpromising - high pressure gloom over us and a cold north easterly. It must be that erupting volcano in Iceland causing it all - it has covered my car in pumice powder already!
On arrival at the farm things started to look up though: half a dozen cars lined up in the carpark denotes likely activity with the Thursday work party. So we head on down to the wetlands and sure enough, encounter them busy planting phragmites along the pathway round the flooded meadow. We are reliably informed that a 40% success rate would be reasonable to expect. it's a cold job today with that wind cutting across the wetland but the thought of elevenes and lunch later in the hide keeps them going.
Marjorie Hutchins, leader of the West Coast RSPB group. The Campfield Volunteer Workparty is comprised mostly from this group.
Other members of the work party on the reed planting project.
Some of these volunteers have been coming here on work parties for the last fourteen years
Reeds that have been planted against the fence to act as a screen
Heading on towards the woodland we encounter Dave Blackledge (Warden) doing careful planting round the outfall and sluice valve area.
Then on into the wood, finding Stephen Paisley (Estate Worker) and two further volunteers, working on the ""Sylvan Glade Bower" weaving further willow fronds and honeysuckle into the structure. One feels that a quote from Wordsworth or Keats would be appropriate - but I don't have the learning, so I'll pass!
Neil Hutchins trying out the Bower seat for size - it seems to be holding under the weight - Dave appears a little anxious though!
We take our leave of the workparty and return, encountering a vehicle with survey-type logos written on it. Later finding out that it is to do with Natural England who are carrying out a massive terrain and hydrological survey of the whole area. Have noted their vehicle around the area for a while now.
Goodness me! Is there no end to today? Arriving back amongst the farm buildings we find a man up a ladder with electronic equipment. So with our newshound instincts thoroughly aroused and press pass at the ready, we approach same and elicit that he is a consultant doing a preliminary bat survey. Asking politely if he 'Batman' would mind us taking a photo of him. Seems an affable fellow and agrees to pose. Not wishing to impose too much on his valuable time though, we have a brief but illuminating conversation about bat identification - time is money!
We return home thoroughly exhausted by our morning's activity !!!