Yes, an Unidentified Floating Object has landed at Greylake. It has been given a couple of 'names' so far, Aquatic Platform and Pond Dipping Platform. It was given a test run this weekend, during our Spring Spectacular event, in very showery, cold and breezy weather conditions.
A few visitors braved the unseasonal weather to join volunteers and staff at Greylake for some pond dipping to discover what lives in the water! There were plenty of stickleback fish, fantastic looking caddis fly larvae, greater ramshorn snails, and freshwater leeches to name a few findings.
So bring your own net and have a go at pond dipping yourself!
Welcome to the Dipping Deck! (Moorings for small boats also available. Only joking!)
This Bank Holiday weekend visit one of Greylake's neighbouring RSPB reserves on the A378 at Swell Wood. There you can explore an enormous woodland carpet of bluebells. Come along with the family to see woodlands in their full spring glory. Join our wardens on Sunday for a walk around the Scarp Trail to enjoy the spectacle. The woodland birds are also in great voice. Well behaved dogs on leads (and their owners) welcome too.
Great for photo opportunities too. Send in your photos of our bluebell woods (low res please) or add to the gallery on our community pages, so that we can start a spring flower collection on our Community page.
A kind visitor to Greylake found a SanDisk (Extreme HD Vido 30 MB) a short while ago and they've kindly sent it to me here at West Sedgemoor. If you've lost one and think it may be yours, give me a call - 01458 252805 or email email@example.com.
Hope you're all enjoying your visits to Greylake, for photography or just to enjoy getting out in the fresh air and sunshine .... at last! We've renewed another stretch of the path so do pop in and have a stroll.
If you're a little concerned about all the coppicing and clearing on Greylake at the moment, here's a quick update. This information is also in the hide for all our visitors. If only we could improve on the weather too!
So ...Why the big fence all around the reserve?
• We’ve had a fence around half of the reserve for the last four years at the far end of the area, which couldn’t be seen from the hide but stops foxes getting in. • It makes for safe nesting areas for lapwing, redshank and snipe, all species in decline. • All these birds nest on the ground in open fields. • Breeding pairs of lapwing in 2008 – none.• Attempts were made but all failed due to lapwing chicks and eggs being eaten.• We have spent the last five years doing intensive monitoring of lapwing nests with miniature cameras on the nests to provide evidence of what is affecting their nests. • And at Greylake, foxes are the number one predator of lapwings. • Several pairs attempted to nest outside the fence last year and were at high risk of attack from foxes.• Breeding pairs of lapwing in 2012 - 47 pairs raising 50 chicks – all thanks to this fence. • This site is now the most important site on the Somerset Levels, and probably in the South West of England, for breeding lapwing.• Over the last few weeks, a major project has begun to expand the fence to encompass 90% of the reserve, providing a large, safe area for ground nesting birds, including lapwings.• Our vision is to provide a safe place for lots of breeding lapwing at Greylake without the need for a fence, and the surrounding Levels and Moors.
Why are the willow trees cut down????
• Lapwings find it safer to nest away from trees and willow withies.• Trees provide perching and nesting places for birds that eat lapwing eggs and chicks. • Carrion crows are the number one bird predator of lapwings at Greylake.• This has formed our decision to coppice the willows along sections of the reedbed loop trail.• The willows have been coppiced (cut down to the ground) but will grow back in summer providing thinner ‘screens’ of willow.• We can then coppice the willows every 2-3 years, to stop them getting too big.• In turn, this will be great for birds like chiffchaffs, and other small birds that feed on insects and caterpillars that are attracted to willows. • The construction of the fence has obviously caused some areas to look a bit muddy!• We have noticed though in our work at Greylake, that the numbers of snipe and jack snipe are much higher this winter than in a normal year.
We hope this helps you to understand and continue to enjoy visiting Greylake, discovering the wonderful wildlife.Please feel free to fill in our visitor questionnaire in the Greylake hide.
Thanks for your patience - From all the team at West Sedgemoor, Swell Wood and Greylake reserves.
During my morning stroll around the reed bed at Greylake this morning, I started to think about the biodiversity an environment like reeds provide and why they are so popular at reserves like Greylake.
During my induction as an RSPB volunteer, it was explained to me that the fields at Greylake used to be arable farmland when the drive from European policy makers to produce more food led to widespread use of fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and artificial fertiliser. This damaged the land and infected water systems that insects, birds and plants relied upon. Arable farming has changed dramatically since then, with many farmers now actively encouraging wildlife onto their land. However, many management plans had to be implemented to make the land suitable for wildlife once again. Thus reed beds have been used. This is because once the reeds are well established they can provide a well balanced safe waste water treatment solution as they have an astonishing capability to purify the effluent in the environment, leaving the soil free of nitrates, phosphates, toxic substances and turbidity. This is achieved both directly by the reeds themselves, which utilize the nitrogenous biological content as their nutrient source as well as directly extracting large volumes of water by transpiration. On a hot summer day a mature reed bed will transpire one centimetre of water. In addition reed beds are also good for carbon dioxide emission capture and sequestration, and add considerably to the local biodiversity due to their suitability as an important habitat for birds such as reed warblers and reed buntings. Several rare species of birds such as the bittern and bearded tit are also dependent on reed beds for their survival. It’s not just the birdlife that benefits from these remarkable tall grass habitats but many insects such as moths, beetles and snails also depend on them.
Reed bunting - Photo: Nick Stacey
So why not pop along to Greylake and come and see biodiversity in action for yourself. Sorry about the weather though. That's the one thing just beyond our control. Thankfully Greylake has a lovely hide so do come and read our information boards in the hide and find out more. And still quite a few snipe, wigeon, and teal on Greylake, good numbers of lapwing, and the kestrel is a regular visitor too.
By Bev Phillips - Volunteer Information Warden