.......avocet. Not a usual bird for us as they tend to stick to their well known sites in the South of England, but we do get occasional visitors dropping in and we had a single bird (unusual in itself) present on West Mead scrape in the afternoon, kept company by sheltering shelduck, a fidgety redshank and a busy meadow pipit. Elsewhere the reserve sounded of spring with numerous singing chiffchaff, a flock of restless and noisy linnet and a drumming great spotted woodpecker off the Zig Zag path.A is also for ......adder but despite the glorious sunny afternoon the wind conspired to bring the temperature down a degree or two and none were showing. We'll keep our eyes peeled along Adder Alley.As our winter birds thin out (and many redwings and fieldfare were vocal and flocking - a sign they are soon to depart?) we welcomed our newer migrants with three little ringed plovers on the North Brooks. Not long until we see our first sand martin perhaps!
With thanks to one of our great hides & trails volunteers, John, for today's update.
All I ever seem to blog about this things being closed, and this is no different!
Trevor and the team are going to be doing a stocktake on Wednesday, from 3:00pm. Because of this, the shop and Cafe will both be closed from 3:00pm onwards!
Sorry for any inconvenience
One of the butterfly species we are lucky to have here at RSPB Pulborough is the Brown Hairstreak. It’s usually on the wing from the end of July, then throughout August and the beginning of September. They are part of the hairstreak family, all five of which are so named because of a pale line on the underside of the wing.
Brown Hairstreak (Photo by Dave Chester-Nash)
They have an interesting life cycle too. They lay their eggs singly in a very specific location on blackthorn bushes, low down on sheltered young growth, in the fork of two branches. Often these conditions are found at the base of sprawling, suckering blackthorn hedges or woodland rides. We spend time during the winter, when there are no leaves on the Blackthorn, looking for these tiny eggs as part of our survey work. The eggs can be quite easy to spot though, once you’ve been scratched to pieces by the thorns, as they are a pure white colour.
When they hatch in spring, the larvae feed on the emerging blackthorn leaves, before pupating in June.
The males of the species congregate in ‘master trees’ which are almost always mature Ash trees. They feed on honeydew from the aphids found in the canopy of these trees. The females are more visible, as they fly down to investigate egg laying locations in the hedgerows after mating in the canopy of the master tree.
So what does this have to do with path closures?
Our main master tree is the very large ash on the corner of the nature trail, where the path splits to go towards Nettley’s Hide. It’s on the section of path that takes you past the picnic area, before the two paths rejoin to go down the hill to the hide.
This tree is rapidly declining, and is actually rotten and hollow through the middle. Many of the limbs are already dead and decaying. While this means it is great habitat for invertebrates that need standing deadwood, it gives tree safety experts heart palpitations!
We’ve taken the decision to protect you, our visitors, and will be closing this section of path for the foreseeable future. Hopefully we will be doing work in conjunction with tree surgeons to prolong its life and make it safer, but until then the route to Nettley’s Hide and Jupp’s View will only be by the top section of path.