I first noticed the Slavonian Grebe at 10.30 am on Wednesday when the resident Coot started to get agitated. It chased the Grebe before diving on top of it and forcing it under water. The Grebe however, surfaced some distance away leaving the Coot totally puzzled as to where it had gone. As the Grebe was now well out of the Coot's teritory it left it alone to feed for the rest of the afternoon. Diving every 3 or 4 minutes, on most occasions it was coming up with a Stickleback.
It spent most of the afternoon feeding before settleing down for a sleep in the sun, only to be disturbed by the family of returning Canadas!
I wasn't sure what to expect, and I have to admit I thought it was going to be a little cheesy! I was one of the first to arrive, and had to stop myself from hopping back in my van and going home!! But I didn't let my nerves get the better of me, and I'm so glad I stayed.
We were split into pairs, doing different jobs, splitting logs, bagging wood chip etc, and every 15 minutes or so we changed partners. Everyone was lovely, the people organising it were good fun and the other volunteers were all really relaxed - I think we all had a great day. I came away with a grin from ear to ear and to be honest I was quite confused as to why I'd never done it before! The Worcestershire Wildlife Trust are in my area, doing a great job and so easy to get involved with. I have already booked myself in to volunteer for another 3 sundays, and I can't wait to get back into it.
It's like I finally realised what Sunday's are for!! And as for Valentines Day, that was finally one I can look back on with a smile rather than a cringe!!
The first visit of last year was in early March. An impressive amount of clearance work and coppicing had been done over the winter and the piles of cut poles produced signs of one of the scarcer moth of the year. 41 Ectoedemia atrifrontella is one of very few Nepticulid moths that mine bark rather than leaves. The larva's tunnels leave a raised pattern on the bark of young oak branches. The moth is Nationally notable. Tony Simpson had recorded the moth at Monkwood in the 1980's so it is good to know it is still there.
The final trapping session of the year was Mike Southall's public event in September. 38 species were recorded from 7 traps. Highlights were 2364 Frosted Orange, a very late 2422 Green Silver Lines and a large number (115 between us!) of 1658 Oak Lutestrings. Monkwood must be the best site for this species in the county by some distance. The event was well attended by members of the public who were new to moths and enjoyed seeing them close up.
Over 182 species were recorded for Monkwood in 2009. The site continues to offer excellent habitat for some of our county's scarcer moths. I'll keep you updated as 2010 unfolds!
A combination of Wildlife Trust volunteers, rare breed cows and the Environment Agency are saving Wilden Marsh.
The volunteers monthly work group met last Thursday at Wilden Marsh, Kidderminster, to begin coppicing the tall willow trees along the edge of the "orchid field". These trees are presently overhanging a wide strip of marshland running the full length of the field and this is having a detrimental effect upon the number of orchids and other plant species. The rare breed cattle graze the site and help keep the the habitat suitable for the rare flora.
In the 1980s the river Stour was deepened causing the Site of Special Scientific Interest to dry out. The Environment Agency have started work on a major conservation program to restore this wetland, working on the site to construct 2 new weirs to raise the water level of the river. The raised river levels will re-wet the underlying marsh enabling plants such as marsh orchid to thrive. Old ditches will be restored to remove excess surface water, which currently pools on the surface.
Please note that access to the Reserve is temporarily not possible for Trust members due to the presence of heavy construction vehicles. The monthly volunteers have restricted access.