September gets off to a promising start with no less than 3 marsh harriers patrolling the reserve today. Peregrine, kestrel and buzzard were also out hunting today.
Following on from last week's rain the water levels on the north brooks in particular are rather higher than we'd like. The waders are still out there, but without the muddy edges to the pools, they are a little trickier to spot amongst the vegetation. Patience should pay off though with greenshank, ruff, green sandpiper, black-tailed godwit and snipe all being seen today.
We'll be attempting to lower the water levels both to create the mud that is so alluring to those passing waders and to enable us to complete the essential habitat management work. The fields all need to be 'topped' (or mowed) to keep the vegetation under control - if the grass is too tall or the rush cover too extensive the conditions won't be so good for either our winter wildfowl (who will be on their way back to us) or our breeding waders next spring. If it is too boggy out there, it's rather tricky for our wardens to negotiate the brooks in the tractor (we really don't want them to get stuck in the mud!).
The hedgerows are busy with the smaller birds with redstart corner and adder alley being popular with a selection of spotted flycatchers, redstarts, a juvenile nightingale and several species of warbler.
One of the highlights of a stroll along adder alley.
Last chance to see...the swallows and martins. There are plenty about at the moment but I've been seeing them lined up along the telephone wires over the past week or so - a sure sign that they're gathering up ready to start their epic migration.
You're unlikely to see much water down at West Mead hide at the moment, and as a result, you're unlikely to spot any waders or ducks.
This makes it the ideal time for us to undertake some habitat management work, so what you might spy from the hide over the next few days is a big yellow digger!
As part of the Heritage Lottery funded Arun and Rother Connections (ARC) project we are deepening and extending the pool in front of West Mead hide. As you will have seen this summer (and during previous dry summers) by August this pool is reduced to a small muddy puddle. The work we are doing should help us to retain water in the pool for longer, providing important wetland habitat for birds and other wildlife and also improving the views of wildlife for our visitors.
By digging out some areas and deepening the pool we will also have plenty of mud to use - we'll be using it to create some small islands in the pool to act as 'loafing' areas for the ducks and potential muddy edges to attract the wading birds. By extending the pool and adding a few more islands and areas for the birds to shelter we're also hoping that the pool will be less vulnerable to disturbance in the winter.
This is just a small part of the work that is being undertaken here at Pulborough Brooks and in the wider Arun and Rother area as part of the ARC project. In September, once the busy summer holidays are over, we will be starting work on resurfacing some of the pathways and creating a new trail that avoids the areas prone to flooding in wet winter. We'll be keeping you updated as the work progresses.
In the meantime, we're sorry for any disturbance but are sure that for some of our visitors at this time of year, the sight of a big yellow digger may cause just as much excitement as the sight of a bird!
Starting on Monday 18 August and continuing for a few days a section of the public bridleway and footpath running through our wooded heathland site will be closed.
Work is being undertaken to raise the level of the path in the area adjacent to 'black pond'. This should be good for both our wildlife and our visitors:
It will enable us to maintain higher water levels in the pond during dry summers which should help the dragonflies and damselflies.
By raising the path this should help to prevent flooding during periods of high rainfall.
Diversions will be in place whilst work is underway. Please help us by not entering taped off areas - thank you!
This is an emerald damselfly - one of the many wonderful species of dragonfly and damselfly that enjoy the pools on our newly restored heathland. Thanks to volunteer Russ for the fabulous photo.