Two summers ago, the Hay Meadow acquired its first orchids – a little patch of Common Spotted Orchids, probably slowly developed from seeds in the green hay scattered in 2011 but possibly from seeds blown in more recently, who knows? Last year the patch was a bit bigger, and this year there are quite a few scattered individual plants in both the Hay Meadow and Carr House Meadow. Mostly they aren’t easy to see in among the rich vegetation, but there is a nice example which is visible from the Fauna path: it’s between the two gates into the Hay Meadow. To judge by other local hay meadow restorations (e.g. Brown Robin Reserve at Grange over Sands), within a few more years they should be all over the place.
Two brown hares observed at the gate between the Fauna path and the eastern gate into the Grammar School Field. They disappeared under the hedge and possibly across the Hay Meadow before I could follow them.
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.
Group of three snipe observed this morning in one of the scythed rides behind Cromwell’s Pond. Just sitting there hanging out.
In previous years, the first flush count of the winter has netted fewer than 10 snipe. This morning we recorded 23! There was one in the Hay Meadow and four in School Pond,. The remaining 18 were noted in Big Meadow. Interestingly, all bar one of these flew up from the northern part of the marsh, where the rushes are young and green following the recent management. (This is where Ian N. took the snipe photograph he posted a few days ago.) Not many other notable birds around, although a meadow pipit took off from the northern end of Big Meadow marsh. On a lovely sunny and deceptively warm day, the Hay Meadow marsh was busy with insects. A Comma butterfly was spotted in Upper Sowerholme and a Red Admiral by School Pond.
This appeared to be the game the Wild Park cattle were playing in Cromwell’s Pond (Hay Meadow) yesterday! Attraction was the tasty bulrushes. Rather distant phone photo was taken after some of them had drifted off to find alternative vegetation to munch.
Whilst preparing for the Ragwort Working Party yesterday morning a woman passing by told us that she had seen baby barn owls at dusk on the top of the shed stone wall. She said that they and their parents could be heard calling to each other in the trees. We looked and listened after the volunteer session last night but without result.
Newly observed flowers include teasels in the Orchard:
The first of our wildflower plugs in flower: greater bird’s foot trefoil:
And what I think is bloody crane’s bill in the Hay Meadow
Whilst undertaking the wildflower survey today we noted a couple of flowers not recorded on the Reserve before:
Common cat’s-ear in the Hay Meadow
Greater Knapweed which id the predominant wildflower now growing in the Flora Field wildflower margin.
Sorry if these photos are ‘sideways on’, the software seems to have a mind of its own when inserting photos taken with my camera!