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.
Visitors at Greylake today were not only treated with lovely sunny weather and a warmer hide but amazing views of a pair of pergrines hunting in full view of the hide and then gliding in front of it! Amazing sites that were enjoyed by all!
Was treated with my first ever sighting of a Little Grebe at Greylake today, very beautiful bird that was diving in front of the hide and later washing and feeding. Brilliant!
Photo: Lynne Newton
Just to let you know that Greylake reserve is still closed as regards access to boardwalks, paths and the hide, but do pop in to the car park as you might still catch a view of a raptor or two and lots of lovely little birds. The surrounding Levels are quite amazing to see, with varying water levels on both sides of the main road. So bring a flask and a sandwich and enjoy a bit of birdwatching from the comfort of your own car.
After 4 weeks of hard work by volunteers and staff the willow weaving part of the new reed bed loop viewing screen is finished – all we have to do now is surface the area and install seats. Already whilst working we have been accompanied by a regular hunting kestrel, we've seen green sandpiper, kingfisher, peregrines and a pair of stonechat, and not so happily watched a Mink stroll past quite unconcerned by the people behind the screen.
Paul Parmenter - Assistant Warden