Wildfowl numbers have been up to their thousands this week on West Sedgemoor, 6500 ducks, 18,000 lapwing and 9000 golden plover, occasionally all being disturbed by the Marsh harriers, Peregrines and Kestrels. Last Monday, the elusive male hen harrier was spotted by myself and Paul, assistant warden, along the south drove followed by a group of eight cranes.
Hedge work continued this week but with a few more days on it, it should be complete. After this, the team will move onto habitat management work down in Chilly Copse, a woodland where we manage numerous coppice plots, on the 15 year rotation established on the management plan. Coppicing is a form of woodland management that has shaped Chilly Copse for hundreds of years. It involves cutting down the Hazel trees, leaving a stump about one foot from the ground which allows new shoots to grow from the stump. This extends the life of the coppiced trees indefinitely.
Seldom will the management of a site be driven by the needs of just one species and this is no exception. This coppice work will open the canopy, promoting rich ground flora; the shrub and field layer, flora which may have descended from that of primeval forest…maybe. The dormouse is of particular concern in these woods, a declining species but local in the area, and keeping the woodland from becoming over mature, opening the canopy, allowing the light to reach the woodland floor and encouraging food for the dormice.
Whilst myself and Helen, residential volunteers, have recently achieved a tractor driving qualification and are now busy putting that into practise, helping move all the brash created from all the clearing and laying of the hedge over the past couple of weeks to the fire, brown hairstreak surveys have been carried out on the hedgerows, with eggs found on numerous hedges over West Sedgemoor. A species in severe decline and therefore a priority species for conservation efforts. An important factor into why our hedge laying management scheme was carried out.
Brown hairstreak egg on Blackthorn - RSPB images
Brown hairstreak - RSPB images
And lastly a little bullfinch flitting around the hedgerow
- RSPB images
Have a good week!
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