Two in Flora Field this evening. Pretty confident of the identification as they were in much the same place as reported by Dan H. last year. And the chestnut horseshoe on the belly was clear.
Whist working in the Reserves today we have observed three roe deer (this morning in Upper and Lower Sowerholme, this afternoon as brazen as you like in the middle of the Flora Field); a heron stood in the middle of the School Pond; two song thrush in the hedge alongside Lucy Brook; four lapwings calling over the Flora Field; two partridges set up from the Flora Field.
I know the Grey Partridge is one of the birds that the Nature Reserve is trying to encourage.
Seems to be doing a good job. Six flew up from the big Fauna field this morning as I passed by on the footpath with my dog. They did not go far, and settled down about 100 yards further on in the same field.
In the Big Meadow this morning and had a very good sighting of three partridge.
I also think I saw a couple of snipe fly off from Ash Tree Pond – certainly their shape was right and they also made a bit of a racket which our bird book comments on. Is it plausible they might be returning as early as this?
Drip’s last post mentioned that a group of FOG members went round the reserve with Richard Storton from RSPB on Friday. The main aim was to get feedback from Richard on the progress of the reserve (e.g. wetness levels, sward condition, development of vegetation – desirable or undesirable). Overall Richard was most impressed and happy with the way things are developing. His principal concerns are that:
- the sward is too high in West Field (not currently being grazed because the White Park herd are unhappy being split to meet Natural England’s stipulation that only three cattle are allowed here during the breeding season)
- West Field Scrape is too dry because there is probably still a field drain that has not been blocked
- Upper Sowerholme is too dry because of the persistent leak in Anna’s Pool
None of this was a surprise as these problems are already being addressed by FOG.
We questioned Richard about the sudden explosion of water figwort in the marshes in the Hay and Big Meadows, and he will be looking into the causes and consequences of this.
Although concentrating on the state of the reserve, Richard was still alert to the birds. He picked up the call of reed buntings, and then spotted several flitting between Big Meadow and School Pond. He thought there was a good chance they were nesting in the rushes. On the boundary between Big Meadow and Lower Sowerholme he noticed starlings and house sparrows, both including young birds. When we started talking about grey partridge, Richard mentioned that he had seen two pairs in Flora Field a couple of weeks ago when he was sat out in Pony Wood looking for lapwing nests. First he saw one stick its head out above the wheat crop, then they all had a bit of a set-to which gave him a good sight of the others.
Along with a host of jackdaws, there were about 15 starlings in the Gleesons field this afternoon. We haven’t had many blogs about starlings, possibly because they tend to get dismissed as a common bird. Yet they are on the red list and one of Natural England’s ‘feature’ species for the natural reserve, along with lapwing, tree sparrow, grey partridge, snipe and brown hare. So please post if you see them in Flora, Fauna or the Orchard. On the grey partridge front, there were two birds again in the West field on the edge of the scrape. Showing well, once you get your eye in.