Hello and welcome to this weeks blog from Greylake, West Sedgemoor and Swell Wood, where we’ve had yet another swing in the weather. We had a pretty wild and windy end to the week, with a bit of proper rain to help the plants grow.

The big news is that Greylake reserve is now open. Thank you for your patience as we've taken a little while to get there. I finished late on Thursday and Friday to power through the last of the work, with some help from Ashley, and we got absolutely drenched so hopefully you'll enjoy the results of our efforts. Unfortunately we've had to keep the hides and reedbed screen closed due to social distancing issues. There is also a one way system in place around the surfaced paths to help with social distancing. There's plenty of signage to help you find your way around. 

In news from the farm, one bird that is sensibly keeping out of the weather is a robin (or pair of robins) that has made a nest inside the shaft of one of our tractor attachments, which is sitting inside a nice dry barn. Ashley went to clean it out earlier in the week and found these two eggs inside. The adult birds have been alarm calling whenever we walk through the barn, so I darted in very quickly to get a picture and then left them to it. It’s really important not to disturb nests, especially at the egg stage when parent birds are more likely to desert or the eggs to get too cold. Once the chicks hatch, the adults are more invested and less likely to abandon them, although you still don’t want to disturb them too much anyway. On Friday morning Ashley said he could see one of the chicks had hatched, probably by now both have, so I will try and get a quick picture soon. It’s safe to say we won’t be using that bit of machinery until they’ve moved out.

The swallows seem to be back on eggs. They are using an adjacent nest to the last one and don't seem to have bothered renovating it as much as the first one, perhaps there's a lack of mud around with all the dry weather. Still, it's in reasonable condition so they should be fine. I'll be keeping an eye on them as well.

I haven't managed to find the pied wagtail nest in the ATV shed. Activity has slowed down but they're still going in and out so they're probably on eggs too. I'll keep looking for that nest, but without disturbing them of course.

We’ve had more good(ish) news out on the moor with chicks. I went out on Monday and Tuesday morning to check on the progress of our breeding cranes. I found two pairs which had one chick with them, both looking reasonably sized by now. We know of five other pairs that seem to have failed to raise a chick this year. It’s possible that there are one or two other pairs that we haven’t managed to monitor properly this year that could have chicks, but we can’t be sure. So two healthy chicks is great, but overall it’s not a good year for them. It’s hard to say why this is, especially as we haven’t been able to monitor them very closely. Possibly the very dry weather has caused problems. Hopefully next year they will do better.

  One of our crane families

We also had a pair of breeding shelduck on the reserve this year. They started off with ten chicks and are now down to five, which isn’t unusual for ducks. They tend to have lots of chicks because they lose them quite easily. I spotted them running across open ground between pools on Monday, the youngsters tripping over their own feet to keep up and they were very cute. Sorry, no picture as they were far away and moving fast.

There had been a lull in our butterflies over the last few weeks, except for the meadow browns. This is quite normal as the spring flying species die off and the summer species haven’t yet emerged. However I have seen signs that our summer species are starting to appear. I took this photo on Monday and have identified it as a large skipper, although I’m not an expert and you may disagree with me.


That's all for this week as I've been busy at Greylake and with other duties but I'll be back next week with another update.


P.S. All photos by me.