Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Penorchard survey

Spring and summer may be a relatively quiet period for the  volunteers as we cannot carry out our regular blackthorn scrub clearing work (which may otherwise disturb nesting birds and damage the flowering plants) but it does give us time to see the meadows at their best and to carry out flora and fauna surveys. The annual plant survey at Penorchard Meadows has been carried out and initial results show the meadows to be in good condition but this is only our fourth year surveying on the nature reserve.

We still have some management work to carry out, however, and one problem we had to deal with was discovered soon after arriving at the reserve for our first day of recording. Fly-tippers had dumped two dozen car tyres into the drainage ditch running alongside the roadway just outside the reserve boundary. A quick call to Worcestershire County Council that same afternoon and the tyres were collected and safely disposed of within 36 hours.

If you are thinking about visiting Penorchard soon, the next few weeks will see the meadows at their very best. The reserve is open every day but visitors are asked to walk around it following the marked public footpaths.

John, Stourbridge Local Group

Monday, 18 June 2012

Dormouse update

I may not have written a lot about dormice lately but that's not to say we haven't been busy...
Grafton Wood – this month James and me checked the tubes in Grafton woods as part of the ongoing investigation (in conjunction with Andy) as to whether dormice are found east of the River Severn (as currently it is assumed they are not present in east Worcestershire). Unfortunately, despite checking 100 tubes, we didn't find any of the furry critters. However,  two tubes contained shredded honeysuckle which is commonly used by dormice to construct nests. A further two tubes contained caches of partially eaten acorns, which is most likely to have been left by woodmice as dormice are not know to store their food. Fortunately further checks are planed this year which may yield more positive results.

Hunthouse Wood – along with Nick, we placed some of the dormouse boxes higher up in the trees to see whether this will encourage the dormice to use them. However, the May check of around 70 boxes and tubes did not reveal any dormice - although several nests of young blue-tits and one rather disgruntled hornet were found! So at least the boxes were providing nesting opportunities for some animals. We'll be carrying out several checks this year so hopefully we'll have more positive results.


Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Our interests outside our own reserves often lie somewhere similar - I was lucky enough to spend the Wildlife Trust's 100th birthday last month at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserve Cley Marshes on the North Norfolk coast.

The day began sunny and warm as I was shown round by warden Bernard Bishop. Bernard, now in his 60s, was born in a house overlooking the marsh and has spent his entire life growing up around this magical place.  He has a wealth of knowledge about the toography and species to be found amongst the reed beds, pools, scrapes and dunes.  

For those who have not visited Cley it is well worth the trip and if you book on a Wednesday you can take a very informative 'walk with the warden'.

On my walk with Bernard we were accompanied by a TV film crew, there for the 100th birthday of the Wildlife Trusts, and I was pleased to do an interview on camera for Look East about WWT and in particular Feckenham WM reserve. Although the site is significantly larger than Feckenham Wylde Moor, our reed management for wildlife habitat is identical. At Cley, however, they also cut reed commercially every year for thatching.

A real bonus was the sighting of the elusive bearded tit. I managed to see both male and female darting through the reeds and was fortunate to catch a photograph of both with this male staying still for just long enough to capture it's distinctive 'beard'.

In all I recorded 75 different bird species over the three days which included black-tailed godwit (still in winter plumage), pintail, little egret, Egyptian goose and red kite.

On the Thursday I took a trip to Blakeney Point to see the common and grey seals. Along the estuary there were common, sandwich, Artic and little tern - all of which breed amongst the dunes. There were also hundreds of Russian dark-bellied brent geese.

During my three days I also saw 8 marsh harriers, including a breeding pair at Holkham where there was also a colony of breeding spoonbill.  All in all a very pleasant and informative trip. I shall be returning soon.

Paul, Feckenham Wylde Moor