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
Great work Mike - and brilliant to hear how successful the project is proving. Looking forward to seeing the rest of the video blogs!