Avocets have been seen back on the Exe, only 2 so far, but these birds will continue to return back to their wintering ground here on the river. Probably the best place to look for them is on Bowling Green Marsh over very high tides. Later in the year when the numbers have grown, the birds will be visible from a number of sites across the Exe. Other news from this weekend on Sat (20th) a Bittern was seen flying into Bowling Green. A first for the site, and very encouraging for the future.
Today (Sun 21st) an Osprey was seen flying along the River Exe towards Turf Hotel and on the farm at Darts we had a new species drop in. 4 Yellow Wagtails all juveniles came in, seen feeding among the Devon Ruby Red Cattle.
Remember to join us on our free 2 o’clock Saturday walks, all year round. Now is a great time to come along as birds are on the move, and you never know what might turn up.
The late summer months on the reserve are the quietest times for birds and our busiest time for getting work done. The breeding birds have finished and the winter birds are just starting to arrive so we have been planning the work programme carefully. Once the vegetation management is complete thanks to funding from Pennon Environmental Trust we will be re-surfacing some of the paths, installing new signs and building a small viewing screen at Exminster Marshes, which will include the creation of a new nature trail and an area for families.This will build on the work that they have already paid for to enhance the area for people, with the installation of the disabled parking space at Bowling Green Hide and the pathway to the new picnic table. This will work in well with the new activities that our Visitor Officer, Gemma has been setting up, so watch out for advertised events.
Improving the visitor experience across the Exe Reserves has been an area we have been striving to progress and new signage is part of this work. Thanks to the money from Pennon Environmental Trust, this month we have been reviewing all the current signs and looking to replace and revise as needed to make visiting easier and more informative. With the sites that the RSPB manage there are so many tales to tell - from the creation of the canal to the role of the WWII structures, that’s before we even go on to mention the wildlife that they are important for today.
It is hard to believe that August is here, the summer is racing by, however there is the constant reminder from the natural world, as duck broods can be seen bobbing on the open water areas, dragonflies actively hawk the ditches and some of the migrant birds start to return from their breeding grounds to prepare for the winter in the UK. The numbers of waders can be seen starting to build at Bowling Green Marsh and it fills me with a sense of excitement and expectation as we await the return of large flocks of wildfowl and waders and of course the Avocets.
As the dry weather continues the wet grassland areas still feel the effects, but it does mean that our management work can continue at a pace. The control of rushes and unpalatable vegetation has been one of the main activities, as we seek to keep regulate of the amount growing in the fields. If the percentage gets too high it reduces the growth of the finer grasses, favoured more by wetland wildlife. Once our control work has finished the fields will be cut baled and material removed followed by grazing to nip out any re-growth. This will prepare the fields nicely for the winter wildfowl as they look to graze the short turf. It is always a fine balance as grassland structure is also important for wildlife, as many bird watchers will tell you our feathered friends always like to hide behind tussocks so not to be seen.
The baled material will then be used by our graziers to help over-winter their cattle and for the production of briquettes as a domestic fuel. After successfully creating samples from last years harvest there are additional trials that we would like to carry out this year which will help us progress this work and explore its possibilities as a method of disposing or some of the vegetation created from reserve management work.