Greetings from the West Sedgemoor, Swell Wood and Greylake reserves.

Hope you’ve all being basking in the glorious sunshine. Some may say that these examples of unseasonal weather are evidence of a coming climate apocalypse, but let’s enjoy it anyway!

The site team, with help from their dedicated volunteers, have been busy making good progress on the maintenance of a number of hedges in the west section of Sedgemoor. The hedges are important habitats for insects such as the brown hairstreak butterfly, and many smaller birds including robins, yellowhammers and blue tits. While short and closely cut hedges may seem neat and tidy, they do not provide much in the way of nest sites. The hedges on the reserve are managed on a ten to fifteen year cycle, which can include coppice work and the laying of small trees, such as blackthorn, to create new growth for the coming years. Lovely as all that sounds, much of the time is spend in a seeming endless battle with enormous bramble bushes, which seem to have malevolent minds of their own. Many poor workers return home with the scars of this combat on their clothing and arms. The things we do for nature huh?

The refurbishment of the Treetop hide at Greylake has been fully completed, and should provide a much less windy experience for this great duck watching viewpoint. We have been able to re-use much of the oak boards that were originally used for the paths at the reserve. With a bit of sanding and some linseed oil, they’ve come up a treat.

Speaking of ducks on the Greylake reserve, the wetland birds survey (WeBS) recorded some good numbers on the nineteenth of February. Nearly two thousand wigeon, and four hundred teal were seen, with gadwell, pintail, shoveler and our good friends the laughing mallard were all present and correct in the morning. Little and great white egrets continue to be a common site, with increasing numbers of cattle egret being seen in this part of Somerset.

During the same survey at West Sedgemoor, over thirty thousand birds were recorded, including different varieties of duck, and thirteen thousand golden plover, and fifteen thousand lapwing. We were also lucky enough to see a number of snipe, and crane.

With the end of the main duck season, a big thank you to Nigel and Elaine who finished their always sold out duck walks which take place most weekends throughout the winter. They have an endless amount of enthusiasm and knowledge about the reserve and the birds that call it home, and ensure that all those lucky enough to book places come away with big grins, and a great understanding of this wonderful reserve.

While the hide at Swell Wood is still closed to the public, large numbers of heron have been seen making nests in the trees directly in front of the hide, which will make for some spectacular views of heron and their young later in the spring. The hide will open tomorrow 1st March. Hopefully the larger of the two trails will be drying out a bit in the coming weeks, and the shorter trail was given an early spring clean by the hard work of the Taunton Midweek volunteers, who give us a big hand with big jobs every six weeks.

Thanks for your continued support of RSPB reserves, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for all the changes in your own environments that spring brings.

Here’s a little message to dwell on when stuck in traffic, or depressed when you watch the news:

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

― Rachel Carson 

~ James 

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