We have work parties on Tuesdays and Thursdays, every week during this time we carry out habitat and estate work on site, occasionally this means we have to close trails or hides, or work in front of a hide as we carry out the management. This is a quick note to update you on what our volunteer work party will be doing this week. We will be working around the kingfisher trail predominantly the path after the kingfisher boardwalk finishes and the kingfisher hide area. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, currently the paths and hide will remain open as we carry out this work and we will update you if anything changes.
The Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust are also carrying out some work, with contractors replacing the ramp up to the Warbler hide. Therefore there will be no access to the Warbler hide while this work continues.
Thanks for your patience
Butterbump, Bogblutter, toasted Heron... there are many names for a Bittern. But before you all get excited, we haven't seen one this weekend! However I thought you might appreciate an update on the movements we've observed of them so far this winter.
Despite the lack of really cold weather, we have had more glimpses than usual of (a? maybe a couple of?) Bittern on the reserve, leading us to be quietly optimistic that we may eventually attract a population that will overwinter here regularly. That is certainly the aim. The first sighting this year was on Tuesday 19th January, then during the week and again on Saturday the 23rd, ahead of "Bittern Day" across the Lea Valley. On this day we came together with the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and Lee Valley Parks Authority, to showcase our reserves and the habitat that's been created for Bitterns. Sightings were registered again on both the 1st and 2nd of February.
As part of the EU Bittern 'Life' project we are all working on ways to preserve reedbed habitat throughout the valley, and extend the areas where Bitterns may be able to roam. Going back to the 17th century, Bitterns were hunted to near extinction, and were declared extinct as a breeding species by 1900. This was also due in part to drastically reduced reedbed habitat and therefore access to their favoured fish diet. Thanks to much conservation work by dedicated organisations, numbers of the species eventually began to rise, and in 1997 there were 11 breeding males in the UK. Continuing efforts have put our latest count (2015) at around 150. A great success story! At present there are no breeding individuals (aka 'Boomers') in Hertfordshire, so we are aiming first on increasing numbers of those spending the winter with us. And an important part of that is raising awareness of both the birds and their plight. For everyone that knows about Bitterns, I bet I can find you at least 10 who've never even heard of one! So if I could ask you one thing, it'd be to share your knowledge. Better understanding means more protection!
The reedbed to the back of the Ashby hide, named the 'Lee Marsh' tends to be where our Bittern sightings come in from here, so this is usually a good bet when on the lookout for the birds. In January, one of our visitors got a brilliant view as she stood on the kingfisher boardwalk looking back towards the Lee Marsh. The Bittern flew up into the air, circled the area, and dropped back down into the reeds, and she managed to take this photo. Thank you Emily Starbug!
So we're sure they're out there, and all it takes is time and a LOT of patience! But we hope you agree that it is worth keeping up the fantastic work of the EU Life project, in order to fill our region with many more of these interesting birds, and maybe, just maybe, the sound of that boom one day.
Hello there, I'm speaking to all our wildlife explorer members and their parents/grandparents here.
Just in case you hadn't heard, we have had to change February's club meeting from the third Saturday to the fourth Saturday to allow for a special activity we'll be running. Times remain the same from 11 am - 1pm.
This means February's date will now be Saturday 27 February, and the theme is "Be a Wildlife Photographer for the day!"
Calling all budding young photographers! Tom Mason, wildlife photographer, is running a special Wildlife Explorer’s club, teaching all about how to take great pictures of wildlife. We will also learn about camera traps and how they work. Make sure you bring your camera as we will be going outside and learning from Tom’s experience. We then give you until 16 March to try out your new skills at home and out and about, to take some excellent wildlife photos. Choose your best 5 and enter them into our junior photography competition by bringing them in at March’s meeting or emailing them to email@example.com. They will then be judged by Tom, and winners announced at April’s Funday/ Wex club on Saturday 16 April.
Wildlife Explorer's Club is always very popular, and we anticipate this to be a very busy session, so please ensure you book your place in advance by ringing 01992 708381 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org asap. Then whatever you do, don't forget your camera!
We look forward to seeing you there.
PS. Not to be outdone, Tom is also running photography workshops for adults on Sunday 13 March and Sunday 10 April. These will be all day from 10 am - 3 pm. Full details will be available on the website shortly, or in the meantime please email email@example.com for details.