- Every nest box has been checked once and the second round has started this week! At the end of the season every nest box will have been checked at least three times. The Great and Blue Tit chicks are developing and the Pied Flycatchers are still incubating their eggs.
Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) chicks.
- On Lodge Farm, the electric fence has been adjusted to allow Lapwing chicks to move from field to field. Most of them have now fledged! They cannot fly yet and need their parents to help them find food and water.
-This week, the volunteers carried out the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) on the reserve. This survey monitors non-breeding water birds (waders and wildfowl) all over the UK. It is an important event where water birds are counted on the same day to get an idea of bird population trends on the national scale. Thankfully the weather was agreeable and some of the more notable counts were: 41 Curlews, one Goosander, four Common Sandpipers and 95 Oystercatchers.
- This week we had the chance to get help from three more volunteers known as "The three Musketeers". They arrived for their annual week on the reserve from England to help the Conservation team. They have been coming on Ynys-hir for more than 20 years!
- Every fortnight a couple of Moth enthusiasts from the local Ceredigion Moth Group, Ina and Tony, come trap on the reserve. It was the best trap session so far this season. If you are interested in knowing more about these nocturnal beasties, Ina and Tony are running a Moth event on the reserve on the 6th of June and the 5th of July!
Brimstone moth (Opisthograptis luteolata)
Scorched wing (Plagodis dolabraria)
Peppered moth (Biston betularia)
Spectacle (Abrostola tripartite)
- The nest box survey has started!
Over the breeding season, 297 nest boxes will be monitored. Most boxes shelter blue or great tit eggs or even chicks. The eggs are white with brownish spots. The chicks mostly blind and naked will start to develop feathers this week. On average, blue and great tits produce 7 to 13 eggs and incubation time lasts between 12 and 16 days.
Blue or great tit eggs
Tit chicks, still blind and naked. Tit nests are typically made of moss, hair and feathers.
When lucky, we found small blue eggs. At this stage we can assume these are either redstart or pied flycatchers’ eggs. We had the chance to see female pied flycatchers sitting on the nest but unfortunately no redstart… yet!
Redstart or pied flycatcher eggs. The nest is mainly made of grass and leaves.
- The butterfly transect this week was not as good as the forecast suggested but we still managed to record a large white along with the typically seasonal speckled wood, green-veined white, peacock and brimstone. At the same time, the first four-spotted chasers could be seen on the bog. The large red damselflies were also seen.
- In the plant kingdom, the yellow flowers were queens of the week. Yellow pimpernels started to bloom along the trails as well as the creeping buttercups and the very first silverweeds.
Yellow pimpernels among blue bells.
Despite a cold spell, spring is most definitely still at work! A lesser whitethroat was seen on the reserve after five years of absence. Finally, the swifts, although observed in the previous weeks could also be seen in greater numbers this week.
The last two months have been busy for the new interns: Joe and myself. It definitely is the best time to discover the reserve: spring has sprung!
The woods are now really colourful with bluebells, red campions, wood anemones, wood sorrel and greater stitchwort. The redstarts and pied flycatchers can be heard singing and like all other birds, they are busy getting their nests sorted.
Carpets of bluebells, indicator of ancient western woodland.
The wet grassland and wetlands are brought to life with songs of whitethroats, grasshopper warblers, skylarks, linnets and stonechats. Everywhere, the butterflies are out: commas, peacocks, orange tips, small tortoiseshells, green veined whites...
A small tortoiseshell on lesser celandines.
It is however not all about bird watching and exploring. We also do some work! So far various tasks included:
- Maintaining the anti-predator fence which protects one of the most important breeding sites for Lapwings in the UK.
- Checking daily on the herd of Welsh ponies doing a great job at maintaining some open areas on site.
Welsh ponies (at the moment there are 11 of them on site)
- Pulling out and disposing of the invasive Rhododendrons on Covert Coch bog.
- Preparing and finalising the newly raised path on the red trail. You can now access the boardwalk without getting your feet wet! A big thank you to the Cambridge Conservation Volunteers who came to do the hardest of the work over Easter.
The very start of the raised path...
Almost done! The path just needs a bit more gravel...
Finally, I want to thank all the members of the public and the bloggers for their interest. I will be happy to regularly keep you updated with news
Soon to come: news from the nest box survey... and maybe some photos!