While walking around the Reserve today we spotted this stonechat in Flora Field. West Field scrape was extensively flooded with the rain we have had and there were many Black-headed, Herring and Lesser Black-backed gulls present. Further round there were a couple of mistle thrush in Big Meadow.

Volunteering session Saturday February 8th 2020

Here is Jonathan’s message

Hello All,

There’ll be a volunteer session at Fairfield Orchard, Fauna and Flora this
Saturday, February 8th, starting at 10.00am and finishing at 1.00pm or

The To Do list for this occasion reads a little like this:

* In Flora Field mark out the beetle bank and margin boundaries with stakes.

* Renew the protective fences around the Flora Field manholes.
These jobs are in preparation for the ploughing of Flora Field so that the
tractor driver has clear boundaries. Some margins (the birdseed ones) are
ploughed and re-seeded each year, the bee-friendly margins have perennial
wildflowers and seed themselves; the beetle banks have to be clear; and
the three manholes along the water main which crosses the field need
protective fencing using our hazel and willow rods and withies.

* Coppice the elm forming part of the hedge in Little Wood. You may be
surprised to hear that there are three elms in Little Wood. As two of them
are now getting quite big and more susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease we are
advised to coppice the third to increase its vigour and immunity

* Reinforce one or two weak points in the Flora Field hedge using hazel
rods and hazel / willow withies.

* Block the second drain exit from West Field.

*And that’s it.

Best wishes,

Excellent results

Yesterday’s flush count was most satisfying: the second highest monthly number of snipe since the counts started in January 2013 and a new record for Big Meadow. A slow start with 3 in the Hay Meadow and 6 in School Pond, where the whole area was awash. But in Big Meadow, they were flying up in groups. 110 counted, eleven of them jacks. Add in the one seen earlier by Graham on his walk-through in Lower Sowerholme gives a total of 120. Now well ahead of the measly score for the whole of last winter.

Snipe were not the only highlight. Meadow pipit were seen in Big Meadow and School Pond, where a scurrying vole was almost trod on. We also saw the curlew spotted by Christine. It was feeding in the southern end of Big Meadow and then moved to the Willow Pond area of Lower Sowerholme. A male peregrine flew westwards over Big Meadow.

On the more grizzly side, but evidence of wildlife presence, there was a mallard skull in Big Meadow, a skinned hedgehog in School Pond and some dried out frog spawn on the grass in the Hay Meadow.