The Big Year for IMF is going strong as mid-late March saw us smash through the 100 species mark for the year. Thank You.
The usual suspects - avocet (11th), sand martin (13th), wheatear (13th), chiffchaff (25th), house martin (25th), swallow (25th) - were joined by an early fall of blackcaps (14th) and the latest figure stands at 106 species for 2011.
Other additions to the list include a short-eared owl (26th) hunting our rough grassland area no doubt forced onto higher ground by the recent high tides - ua couple more hae been showing well in the nearby Chapel Fields
A barn owl was also reported hunting the same field the previous evening (25th).
The appearance of a little grebe, aka dabchick, for a couple of days is also a first for the year and actually they are not that common on this part of the reserve.
Swifts will soon arrive but what will April hold?
Last April saw lots of arrivals: willow warbler (2nd), garganey (4th), spoonbill (7th), grasshopper warbler, sedge warbler and whitethroat (all 12th), little tern (19th), osprey (23rd), hobby (25th), tree pipit (26th), yellow wagtail and common tern (30th) - a repeat would see us push the 120 mark before May!
So remember to report any interesting sightings to RSPB staff/volunteers on site and make sure we get it on the year list!
If you look beyond the reedbed and over to the far side of "IMF2" you will notice a big change in the landscape as over 8 hectares of land is being prepared to be planted with a barley crop.
This area is too dry to be part of the wetland so we got our heads together and came up with a plan that will hopefull benefit both breeding and overwintering birds and thus will help us deliver the "Big 3" for many farmland birds; safe nesting, summer food and winter food - for more info on these ideas visit http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/farming/advice/conservation/big3.aspx
The preparation of the ground will all be completed by 30th March ensuring that lapwings have a chance of establishing themselves to breed. The growing crop will provide nesting opportunities for 3 red-listed birds; skylark, grey partridge and yellow wagtails.
In addition the winter stubble will provide food for overwintering birds such as pink-footed geese, skylarks and many finches.
For those even more interested and wishing to see some of the strategies used to help a local farm deliver the Big 3 then check our events listings for details of a guided farmland walk on 7th May (or phone 0151 3341906 for details and to book)
Recent Sightings - Avocet x2 ... Wheatear x2 ... Sand Martin ... Spotted Redshank x2 ... Green Woodpecker (Yaffling) ... Fieldfare ...Hen Harrier
For all you snappers out there if you have any photos that you wish to proudly display in our current reception then send them through to firstname.lastname@example.org where they may be then proudly displayed on our sightings board!
It's been a long time since I wrote on here but I know you have been in Paul's capable hands :-) I now have lots to write about!
I have just returned from bribing - oops feeding - the cows this morning ready for their departure on Monday. I am getting them used to being fed from a bucket so that they will follow me to the trailers! There were skylarks singing meaning spring is on its way! The cattle will leave us for the main lapwing breeding season to give the birds the best chance possible and will return late May.
We are experimenting by growing barley on part of IMF2 this summer where the land is too dry to be wet grassland. It is adjacent to fingerpost gutter where the yellow wagtails breed and hopefully this will suit them. It will also provide stubble cover over winter suitable for feeding pink footed geese, grey partridge and wintering passerines such as skylarks, linnet and yellowhammer. So keep an eye out!
The sheep on the farm are doing well and the first January lambers have finished. There is now a calm before the storm when the remaining 1300 sheep will lamb end of March throughout April! A number of young veterinary students will assist Dominic and will have a steep learning curve in getting their hands mucky!
The sheep will all be brought in off the marsh for the next high tide mid March and stay in until after lambing. Some ewe lambs will remain on the marsh who are not in lamb this time. We had quite an adventure mid January when we had to remove all the sheep last minute on Friday as the winds were whipping up a relatively low tide of 9m and threatening to break the banks over the marsh. Sure enough that weekend the marsh was covered! It has been hard work brining the sheep in as there has been so much water left in the gutters and standing in pools in low lying areas that paths normally used have been impassible and long diversions have been necessary. We are working with our tenant farmer to try and encourage the sheep to graze further north on the marsh as there is evidence of overgrazing around the old tip and near Corus to the south. This will hopefully beneift the breeding redshank by opening up dense vegetation patches to the north.
The wall along marsh road has been completed and if you have seen it you will agree it is very smart. We are now continuing along the wall to Burton Point - slowly! A lack of stone has meant scaveging from another small sectioon of fallen down wall on the reserve, a very physically demanding job. Therefore all you Tuesday volunteers will be pleased to hear that we have a digger coming in on Tuesday to dig out the deep foundation stones!! Phew!
You may have noticed some smart new post and rail fencing around the sheep pens. They are having a re-vamp as many of the original posts are rotten, gates dont swing properly and the dip itself needs to be enlarged. Work will continue here over the next few weeks.
There is still loads of footage of the badgers using the new set at Burton point, and for those of you who haven't seen it please follow the link.
There is badger mating on it which is a rare sight to even the most active badger ecologists! We are going to put a fence around the sett once access to Burton Point is open to prevent disturbance to the badgers by curious visitors! They need their beauty sleep of course during the day time.
If you have been down recently you will have seen that the railway bridge just off the path on the way down to the hide has been cleared up in preparation for an extension of our footpath network. The bridge is an excellent viewing point. For the time being please do not venture any further than teh current path. If you see anyone going that way please call them back! Thankyou!
We have been busy with the help of many volunteers making 49 tree sparrow nest boxes (the wood split on the 50th!!). As spring is fast approaching these will be erected in the next week or so next to our 2 areas of sacrificial crop - fingers crossed they will be used! As spring is approaching the coltsfoot is in flower, along with the lovely welsh emblem, The Daffodil.
It is our annual health and safety check tomorrow so I am off to check the tractor. You will be pleased to know all our first aid kits are now up to date ;-)
Take care, Rhian