I had to check out a couple of jobs for tomorrow's volunteer work party, so I took the chance to wander over a part of the reserve I don't visit as often as I do some other parts, if you see what I mean. There was a general blue theme - the bluebells were still going strong, and the tracks were covered in flowers, almost all of them blue -ish. There were literally thousands of flowering spikes of bugle, but scattered in amongst that there was ground ivy, germander and heath speedwells, and field and changing forget -me-nots. That last one was a bit of a cheat really - the flowers start off yellow and only turn blue later on. So, if I'm being totally honest there was a little bit of pale yellow in amongst the blue. Either way it was a really impressive sight, and no, I didn't have a camera!
The 10 th Anniversary preparations are going well. The second instalment of our video blog is available here http://youtu.be/67XubRa8aHI This one is about the successes of the Project so far, some of them at any rate. Enjoy.
You've probably noticed! A scorching March, followed by a cold wet April and May has certainly had an impact on the reserve. It's not been all bad - the rain has helped some heather to germinate in the blocks we cleared in 2010. However the bluebell display has been a bit below par - the plants seem a little shorter, and more spindly than last year. Nevertheless, there is still a carpet of blue in places, and, when the wind drops, you can still fill your nostrils with that sweet scent. Marvellous. Of course, being out on the reserve just reminds me of the work we'll need to do, come the winter. The plan is to coppice some more of the chestnut woods. This will create temporary clearings, letting in a lot more light, and hopefully boosting the bluebells for next year.
My big worry was whether the cold conditions had killed off the field crickets. Re-introduced populations are most vulnerable in the early years of the programme, before the numbers have built up, and conditions this spring have been far from ideal. However, this afternoon I heard 6 calling males, so some at least have survived. Now all we need is some decent weather for egg laying.
This is the 10th anniversary of the Farnham Heath reserve. Happy birthday to us! The site has changed from a commercial conifer plantation to a rather nice bit of heath, even if I do say so myself ! More importantly this year there are 9 pairs of woodlark, 8 pairs of tree pipit and 5 pairs of stonechats that agree! Too early to tell how many nightjars this year...
As part of the celebrations, we've put together a "video blog" about the place. You can find it at http://youtu.be/8QI83ry4R_I