Wednesday, 11 February 2015

It's the start of a big change

The Safari had a bit of a different day today. A very quick look at choppy Patch 2 wasn't at all productive.
After that we went down to the nature reserve to see how the new team are getting on and chat to the volunteer group as well as being shown around the heavy duty works that began yesterday with the removal of the old Container Hide.
Apologies to all concerned for the unashamed theft of the pic
Yep it's certainly not there anymore
The muddy area will be built up with a huge clay mound and a new hide placed on top to give a panoramic view of the reserve and a bird's eye view into the reedbed below. The tree on the left will almost definitely be removed.
At the moment the destruction looks extreme but by this time next year you'll probably not be able to tell anything had happened here.
Less destructive, or at least just as destructive but on a smaller scale, was the volunteer group's task to remove a rapidly extending patch of Brambles. Part of it was retained to provide viewing shelter with a full length view down the mere and by the reeds for reed/scrub interface which our Cetti's Warblers like.
It's gratifying to see how much otherwise daunting work can be achieved by an enthusiastic group of volunteers and chat and fun was had at the same time! 
The next volunteer party is on Saturday 14th from 10am, get your boots on and join in. 
All that's needed now is a bench tucked in behind the remaining Brambles so that yours truly can scope the gulls in comfort out of the wind. A rustic tree-trunk type form is on the cards.
Once the work party was over we had lunch and than were taken to see the bigger works.  Some rather large trucks were delivering rather large loads of rather large stones to build a temporary causeway onto the island so that the diggers can get on there to do their work.
It all looks very fierce at the mo.
We were taken across the new causeway to have a look round the island, somewhere we haven't been for at least 10 years, you get a very different view of the reserve from here - the wildlife's eye view if you will.
We took a look at the owl box, no-one was home, no-one has seen the Barn Owl come out of here for a while. We took the opportunity to take a peek inside and collect some pellets for educational groups a little later in the project.
Pretty manky in there - certainly been well used over the years!
Not only the Barn Owl has been over there but there was a lot of evidence of Fox activity too, well worn trails, plenty of sh*t. Not good if we're hoping to encourage waders to nest successfully on there.
We had a good old rummage round and discussed some ideas around what we used to do and what worked and what didn't and what we'd never thought of before that might be worth a try.
Once off the island we wander back to the viewing platform to find a Firecrest hopeful in situ but had already seen it at the Feeding station earlier. Then a truck appeared in the distance, a taste of things to come over the next couple of weeks as they re-profile the island and use the spoil to build the mound for the new panoramic hide - there's gonna be a bit of disturbance! Be warned; much of the reserve is Out-of-Bounds while the trucks are moving around.
Back on terra-firma we had a look through the gulls but there was no sign today of the Iceland Gull. A rather large Bracket Fungus caught our eye almost totally encircling a dying Willow trunk.
We won't mention the two times Brambles got the better of us and had us nose-diving to earth - pesky things!
Where to next? Another Patch 2 check tomorrow followed by another site visit to somewhere we've not been for many years.
In the meantime let is know who's been sneaking into unknown areas in your outback.

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