Last night, David our Conservation Intern, heard splashing in the borrow pits alongside the main path. To his surprise a fishing otter came out of the reeds right in front of him! This is the first record since the reserve has been in existance although I have just heard that Ray Kimber found a dead female on the west back 2-3 years before the reserve was bought.
Well done David!
This Sunday, Titchwell is home to a plant sale with a difference! Volunteers Di and Cynthia have been busy growing plants that will attract bees, butterflies and birds to your garden. They will be on hand to give advice on wildlife-friendly gardening and which plants to choose.
There will be a great variety of plants for sale including nectar-rich plants like hollyhocks and foxgloves which provide insects with a ready supply of the foods they need as well plants such a teasels and sunflowers which attract birds with their seeds in the autumn.
There is also a raffle where you can win plants that have been donated and other great prizes!
This is a great way to Step Up For Nature by providing homes (or food) for wildlife. If you would like to come along, the plant sale is on Sunday 1st July, 10am – 4pm.
A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the wren that was building a nest in the cover of the heating flue outside the office. Wren's are well known for building 'cock nests' to impress the females and show them how good they are at nest building. I assumed that this was the case here but I have seen the male coming in with food for the female recently.
Fingers crossed they will fledge successfully.
Doing Ray's Rambles is for me one huge and very enjoyable learning curve. It has all developed from my lifelong bird-watching obsession. As a child trying to learn about birds in a totally non-birdwatching family was very much trial and error (some things never change!). Eventually I could identify most of the birds in our part of Hampshire, and what seemed a natural thing to do then was to work out what they were feeding on and any other species present.
My first new species this time came in exactly the way I've just described. A lovely cock linnet was feeding on fallen beaked hawksbeard seeds at the side of the west bank path. Although some plants had gone to seed, many still had their bright yellow dandelion-type flowers and a few inches from the linnet's head was a dark green pollen beetle with curious swollen back legs. It only has a scientific name, Oedemera nobilis, but I would have missed it if I hadn't been looking at a perfectly common bird to start with. Taking advantage of all opportunities is a must and I certainly take advantage of our weekly moth mornings. This week the trap produced a nicely patterned but basically brown moth called a pale-shouldered brocade.
On Sat. 23rd I co-led a guided walk for the Linnaean Society. I was showing part of this very interesting group one of our more obvious fungi, hairy curtain crust, when I spotted what I thought was a thrown away Smartie. Then I realised my 'sweet' had a very slender 2cm pale stalk, and I was actually looking at the small orange cap of a fungi new to me. This I later confirmed as orange bonnet. Some of the society wanted to see two of our rarer plants, matted sea lavender and sharp rush. While they were looking at them from a reasonable distance, I saw at my feet the pretty pink flowers of greater sea spurrey, my fourth and final new species this fortnight. The list now stands at 1017 - I wish I'd started it ten years ago!
In 2010, as part of the Titchwell Coastal Change Project we carried out some extensive improvement works to the fresh marsh. As well and creating and re-profiling islands we removed the encroaching reed from the edges. This reed was starting to take over making it difficult to manage and reducing viewing opportunities.
With all of the reed gone, other species have been able to flourish and the most obvious is the curled dock. Not only are the dock species excellent for relieving nettle stings, they are a fantastic seed source and the curled dock provides lots of food for wintering wildfowl. Since the dock has become established our wintering waterfowl numbers have increased dramatically with teal benefitting the most. Traditionally wintering teal numbers fluctuate greatly with peak counts of upto 800 birds around the reserve. In the last couple of winters, since the dock has become established, numbers have gone through the roof. In 2010 we had a record count of 1100 but that was smashed over this last winter with 2300 in November!
Over the coming weeks you may see us working on the fresh marsh. We will be cutting small sections of the dock around the Parrinder Hide to open up areas to view the waders. The vegetation will be left to slowly rot down providing food for the invertebrates, which in turn will provide food for the waders.