We've had some much better weather this last week and Greylake has been busy with people who have had great views of our regular range of birds. A lot of the birds have been close to the hides so hopefully photographers have been able to get some really good photographs of teal, wigeon, snipe and water rail. Our 'white' buzzard has been around again as have peregrines, marsh harriers and a sparrowhawk. Great white egrets have been showing well and on Friday 3 cranes came up from Kings Sedgemoor and circled over the reserve. A Song Thrush has been singing loudly by the car park. On Friday there were signs of Spring with a bumblebee and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly. I've also noticed a few small flowers appearing. Many thanks to Jo and Rob for the updates.

Water Rail in front of main hide (David Miller)

In recent weeks I've found a couple of nice insects. When taking down the No Entry signs for re-painting. Amongst the overwintering earwigs was this very nice Hawthorn Shield-bug. Also whilst hedging I disturbed this overwintering Red-green Carpet moth amongst the dense ivy on the ground. Yes, various species of moth overwinter just like some of our butterflies.

Hawthorn Shield-bug (David Miller)

Red-green Carpet moth (David Miller)

At Swell Wood the hide overlooking the heronry is closed at the moment so that they can establish their nests undisturbed. On 1st March it will be open again so that we can all watch the goings-on. On Friday there was plenty of activity there judging by the noise. The only plant flowering up until now has been the Hazel but Dog's-mercury is leading the Spring species. 

Hazel catkins with the unobtrusive pink female flower also showing (David Miller)

On the management front we have been in to Chilly Copse and have coppiced our first plot. The woodland here is mainly Oak standards with Hazel coppice, but there are a lot of old dead Hazel stools and there are far too many gaps in this shrub layer for how we think it should be. To overcome this we are experimenting with the management and have layered some of the Hazel stems. This is a bit like hedge-laying in that we've only partly cut through the stem when we've cut it down, but we've then also notched the wood and pegged the stem down to the ground, covering the notch with soil. We hope that the Hazel will root around these notches. Most importantly we found a very convenient fallen tree on which to sit and have our lunch.

The team take a well earned lunch break (Annie Pickering)

Who and what? (Annie Pickering)