Our Manx Loghtan sheep had their hair cut today. Alan the sheep shearer ( no jokes about Alan Shearer!) and his trusty dog came down and with Andy the warden penned them ready for action.With 56 sheep to shear, it's a long, hard day.Once they are done, they run off looking a bit bemused, but no doubt a lot cooler.
When the woodpeckers at The Lodge reserve fledged earlier than usual this year, we had a great opportunity to show visitors our nesting spotted flycatchers instead. The birds sometimes incubated their eggs for long periods, with the second bird dutifully bringing tasty insects to its partner on the eggs. Ranging from flies to bees and wasps to moths, we watched as the birds performed their characteristic circular flight to catch their food.
Last week the spotted flycatcher chicks hatched and the parents became much busier feeding themselves, each other and the chicks, showing that there was more than enough food for them all. Yesterday we ringed the tiny chicks in the hope that in future years we can find out where they go, and if any of them return to The Lodge.
There were four chicks and one unhatched egg when we looked in the nestbox. For one of the little chicks it was a good job we checked them, as the ringer had to remove some garden twine that was stuck around its leg. As they have not left the nest yet, this must have been one of the parents thinking it was good nesting material!
We will be watching the flycatchers and providing visitors with information about them for one more weekend and then it is likely that next week the chicks will fledge. They will then build up the fat reserves to prepare them for their incredible migration to Sub-Saharan Africa.
Throughout the summer enthusiastic RSPB staff and volunteers are taking visitors on Dusk Watches on The Lodge reserve to see what creatures are on the prowl as dusk falls.
On Tuesday night, the summer solstice, we took a group of ten visitors around the reserve and to our new viewpoint to see what wildlife we could see. The evening started well with spotted flycatchers, green woodpeckers and a fleeting view of a muntjac. The evening then progressed with fantastic views of a kestrel hovering in full view and a fox sneaking past us. The weather was beautiful.
What came next, however, was completely unexpected and wonderful! Within 10 metres of the group, a family of five badgers, including three cubs, appeared! They came crashing through the undergrowth playing and gambolling, completely unaware of our presence. They stayed nearby for a long time, occasionally disappearing and reappearing but always close by. The fox appeared a few more times too and finally a young badger came running around the corner to come face to face with one of our visitors, finishing off the evening perfectly.
All the visitors had once in a lifetime views of these fantastic and secretive creatures. Eat your heart out Springwatch!
If you would like the chance to have an evening like this please go onto our website http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/t/thelodge/events.aspx and book a place! The event runs on various dates through June, July and August.