Around the reserve:
Hmm, where exactly did spring go and have we seen the last of summer? I hope not. At least while we have been bemoaning the recent wet weather the wildlife around the valley has been cracking on and producing! The lapwings on the island have chicks but lost in the vegetation it is hard to keep count. We know that there are at least four but it could be more. What seems likely though is that some will have succumbed to the weather or predation. Not so the three young oystercatcher who have matured to beyond an age of being very vulnerable. The terns on the raft have two very young chicks and a pair of little ringed plovers are sitting tight on eggs on the newly profiled lake shore. This site has given them protection from flooding whilst many plovers all across the country have perished, fingers crossed they can remain off the radar of those that would have an egg breakfast!
My(!) Cettis warbler has stuck around and our breeding bird surveyors think that he is holding two territories in the reedbed and in the scrub near the hide. It seems unlikely that he has found a mate but at least if he thinks that its suitable habitat it’s a step in the right direction for this potential colonizer. Other good recent sightings have included bar tailed godwit, several yellow wagtail and a black tern.
Around the reserve the volunteers have been cracking on with some of the summer estate tasks, the fencing around the paths has been given a face lift with some new treatment whilst a new viewpoint has been created for visitors wanting a close view of the feeders. Steps have made the kingfisher corner and riverside walk more manageable even when wet and new steps by the lake viewpoint also now compliment the new surfaced footpath...Well done everyone and many thanks from all the visitors who benefit from these works.
Many of these birds have been enjoyed by visitors attending one the several guided walks recently, the number of species seen and heard is very impressive and I can’t imagine anyone could not go away inspired! The Wildlife explorer groups continues to thrive and the Holiday wildlife club was well attended even despite the rain!
We are now looking for volunteers in a new and exciting role at the reserve. Voluntary Wardens will help ‘man’ the reserve each day providing vital support to the staff and volunteers. The role covers assisting with opening and closing the site, checking the paths and infrastructure, top up the feeders, provide a friendly face around the reserve and a presence to prevent and help manage any problems (tree on the path, broken fence, injured bird, mad axe murderer!). The volunteer might also be required to help out with any shortfalls in the hide or be a back marker on a guided walk....sound like something you might be able to help with? Can you offer half a day per fortnight? We are really hoping to get every day covered. Please get in touch with Stefan if you are interested.
We are also looking for more People Engagement Assistants (PEAs) to help with manning the hide and also at events. We are hoping to get the hide open more often and for longer and though the current stalwarts are doing a great job and putting in a lot of time we need more! PEAs need to be comfortable talking to people about the reserve but don't need to be mega wildlife experts. They should be able to spare us three hours at a time and be up for regular commitment.
Both roles are really important to providing a great visitor experience for those that decide to use their time wisely and come to RSPB Sandwell Valley so please do think hard if you can spare any hours to help or know someone else who might fit in.
This coming week beginning the 18th June, Fiona King from our consultants Barker Langham will be at the reserve and in the area all week. She is aiming to catch up with as many volunteers, visitors and potential visitors as possible. This is to get a really good flavour of how the reserve is viewed and used and also how it might also better meet its potential in the future. Expect Fiona to grab you at some point if you come to volunteer or visit in this week but there will also be a drop in session which will be available for anyone missed and she may also phone some contacts to ensure that everyone get consulted. We should also have recruited the architect for the new centre build in the next two weeks also so they will start to be involved in the process.