“February” flush count

February’s flush count was brought forward in the light of this week’s FFOG meeting which – among other things – will be discussing our progress in attracting birds to the reserve.

Very wet underfoot again, but an otherwise lovely morning for wading through marshes. An encouraging start in the Hay Meadow, where 17 common snipe were flushed, was followed by a ‘high’ figure for Upper Sowerholme of 7. School Pond yielded 24 snipe (including 1 jack) and Big Meadow 40 (including 2 Jack) making a total of 88, much on a par with this time last year.

Teal were again on School Pond (though only 4 birds) in the company of a moorhen, A heron was spotted in Big Meadow, as were 5 female pheasants and a wren. A brown hare was disturbed in the depths of the marsh. Last seen it was running off in the direction of the FA shed.




One of a pair of redwing in the gun range this afternoon. A great spotted woodpecker was drumming in Pony Wood, and linnets and fieldfare were around in numbers.

White-headed Linnet


Walking round Fairfield yesterday afternoon I observed numerous fieldfare in four locations (all just outside the reserve), as well as about 36 linnets in the hawthorn. I wonder whether the white-headed one will be back next year. There was also a mistle thrush (the software keeps changing it to the more exciting missile thrush), a grey heron, and exiting onto Cromwell Road there were 50-60 goldfinch in the trees which took off when a train came through – they headed off to Haverbreaks.

Volunteering session Saturday 14th January

Sorry I didn’t give notice of the session as I thought the blog was ‘under repair’. Now I know its back up and running here is the report of what we did.

A rather disappointing turnout of only 11 volunteers on a lovely winter’s morning. Problems with temperamental hedge trimming machines also made for a poor start but once under way we got a lot done:

  • We finished weeding the wildflower plot of couch grass.
  • The root-suckered blackthorn alongside the Fauna path was cut back.
  • We finished off cutting back bramble invading Carr House Meadow. This will need further work digging out the rooted stems.
  • The willow living screen alongside the School pond was trimmed, repaired and strengthened. Still a lot to do here.
  • The pruning of the Orchard fruit trees continued.
  • Corrugated iron sheets were transported to Lower Sowerholme in readiness for further brash burning.
  • The very much overgrown and underused ‘log benches’ in Pony Wood were taken up and used to create a habitat pile within the wood.
  • Brash from hedge laying which had strayed onto the Stump Circle was dragged back into the woodland.
  • A broken strand of barbed wire near the Ash Tree dogleg on the Fauna path was repaired.
  • Two tables and a gazebo were erected for the afternoon wassailing.

A disappointing tally

Given the strength of snipe numbers so far this season, we were expecting a busy time this morning. But the outcome – a total of 37 including 2 probable Jacks – was considerably lower then in 2014 and 2015, albeit only i less than last year. The relatively mild conditions perhaps? Split was 13 in Hay Meadow , 2 Upper Sowerholme, 13 School Pond and 9 Big Meadow. There were 4 teal in West Field. Three teal took off from School Pond and were later seen flying away from Alder Pond. Two jays were in the  Carr House Meadow/Gun Range hedgerow, and a heron was spotted flitting around the reserve. There was a lot of evidence of small mammals (voles?) feasting on the soft rush..