The past weeks saw challenging and varied weather, from torrential downpours one minute, sunny spells another and some of the first heavy (ish) frosts keeping us on our toes.
Some particularly frosty mornings over the past weeks
Although it may seem like a long time until the reserve is filled with a plethora of species of both flora and fauna there is still a wide variety of wildlife to be seen and heard around the site. Copious amounts of wildfowl, including Teal, Wigeon, Shelducks and of course the Greenland White Fronted Geese, populate the vast saltmarsh, smaller ponds and flooded ditches. The occasional burst of song from a Cetti’s warbler below the Visitor Center and a squeal of a Water Rail from denser cover. Over towards the areas of lowland wetland grass large flocks of Lapwing intermixed with Curlew and Starlings spend their time feeding in the open, occasionally harassed by a hunting Peregrine or Merlin. If you're lucky, views of Marsh and Hen Harrier can be fantastic, watching them hunting across distant fields
Some of the larger jobs, the completion of fencing around some of the woodlands for instance, have now been completed whilst others are edging closer to completion but just need a few finishing touches. Work on the anti-predator fence at the breakwater is one of those, tweaks and checks of its overall security have been taking place from monitoring with camera traps to walks of the perimeters looking for any potential weaknesses.
Finished stock fencing around some of our ancient woodland where a small group of cattle are grazing over winter
Our weekly Tuesday Volunteers have been busy as ever cracking on with a variety of jobs around the reserve and being super helpful in providing well needed support to the reserve team. Clearing leaves and vegetation from the car parking area, clearing, and removing old fence lines, adding metal plates to nest box entrances and the clearing of a small area of willow regrowth encroaching on some of the important habitats around the Marian Mawr pools are just some of the jobs they have been putting their hands to!
Willow regrowth on the Marian Mawr pools. Although Willow can provide a fantastic habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, these particular small patches are encroaching on important breeding wader habitat, so a little thinning of this particular patch is one of the many winter jobs before the coming breeding season
One of the many nest boxes with added metal plate around the access hole to help with the prevention of predation from other birds and mammals. Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Grey Squirrels are two species that can enlarge the nest holes to gain access to a nest and predate chicks and eggs inside!
Additional jobs around the reserve included upgrading access for livestock to and from parts of the reserve in the form of installing new gates and much needed repairs on others. Regular daily and weekly checks of grazing livestock, the removal of viewing screens overlooking parts of the Marian Mawr pools and the start of a new viewing screen where people can enjoy a look over the saltmarsh.
Re-hanging gates to allow access to and from different parts of the reserve for some of the livestock
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