Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Sweet n sour

The Safari will begin with a bit of a sour rant before getting on to the sweeter stuff to lighten the mood. Our rant begins the other day when we came back to Base Camp to see this.
Now you see them
OK so the Poplar trees at the end of our street are being topped like they have been in the past, you can see the pollarding point quite easily - do they really need it? They're not THAT big and only shade out a car park. But 'something in our water' told us they weren't just being topped. Sure enough by the end of the day and after the non-stop sound of chainsaw and giant shredder the trunks were gone.
Now you don't
This is a row of trees and we can see the other end from our kitchen door
Going going
Or rather you can't anymore
In the town in England and Wales that has the second least tree cover, beaten only narrowly by our neighbouring town up the road, the loss of any (semi-)mature trees is a big blow, bearing in mind the the UK is the least wooded country in Europe after Iceland (maybe not quite in Europe and only just outside the Arctic Circle) and our close neighbour Ireland. They might be replaced - yeah right - we wont be holding our breath!
Sadly their loss also means we will probably lose the moths that feed on Poplar from the moth trap this coming season. It doesn't take much to cause a local extinction and when those doesn't take muches start becoming more common and closer together then regional extinction and worse starts to happen. There are a small number of other Poplar trees in the area but they are quite away from our moth trap. so say goodbye to the following little beauties. Heartbreaking really - for what??? The trees could easily have been pollarded again.
Figure of 80
Poplar Grey
Poplar Hawkmoth
It's not as if these are the only trees that have been felled locally in recent times. We've been at Base Camp 15 years and in that time the view from the back bedroom has gone from quite tree-filled not really able to see many other buildings to almost deforested and now hardly able to see any trees and we wonder while the bees and butterflies and all the other little things that make the world go round are disappearing - well it's our loss and it'll be our downfall if we don't address the biodiversity crisis soon.
It is gloomy and the prospects don't look too bright at the moment but there are people trying to reverse the trends and are having some success. Trouble is we'd love to go and  have a look but they are all quite a way away. The most exciting of those projects is probably the Knepp rewilding experiment in Sussex, at 3500 acres a good size,  followed closely by RSPB's 450 acre Hope Farm that shows that profitable agriculture and increasing wildlife can co-exist, although how it'll fare post  Brexit (if it happens) without subsidies is anyone's guess and what'll happen to other farms is also anyone's guess) and then there's Derek Gow's brand new brave rewilding adventure on his 300 acres down in east Devon. How we'd like to be closer to that site so we could watch how it develops from its first few days ie now! Lots of Base Line surveys needed for everything! Or better still we could do with at least a couple of large or largeish landowners to follow suit in every county - 300 acres isn't that big for a rewildling project and we're sure the small size of it is going to create some issues that will need some serious thinking to be resolved. We'll certainly be following Derek's progress. If only we had 500 acres we'd be right in there too. Total rewilding isn't the complete answer on our small island too, there's a good case for managed less wild land - a case in point is we desperately need a large Leighton Moss RSPB/Martin Mere WWT sized reserve between those two here on the Fylde or Over Wyre.
Our safari last Friday took us, with CR, to a site wildlife, with a bit of help, has reclaimed from the heartlands of the industrial revolution and the subsequent demand fro immense amounts of coal. Looking at the serene and green environs of Pennington Flash now you'd never know it's smoky, dusty, dirty mining heritage if it weren't for the interpretive clues all around the place. It's a lovely peaceful clean and green country park now with abundant wildlife and a gull roost!
We were blessed with a mostly sunny day and although it was cold with the ground frozen and some snow lying on the ground especially where the sun wasn't reaching there was no wind so it actually felt quite pleasant unlike the last couple of times we've been there and the wind has been downright cruel. 
We did two slow laps of the reserve stopping for the most part at the feeding station, Bunting Hide, and Horrock's Hide overlooking the spit and the western end of the lake, at the other hides the pools were still just about totally frozen and there was little to be seen.
In no particular order here's a selection of what we saw. 
Bunting Hide was well provisioned with food and was very lively as you'll see -
Blue Tit
Long Tailed Tit
Bullfinch (PYLC #71)
Reed Bunting (PYLC #72)

Stock Dove (PYLC #76)
Dunnock (PYLC #73)

Grey Squirrel
Love it when the Long Tailed Tits eat their dinner while dangling one footed from a twig - why do they do that? (Shame about the cable-tie)
Aww come on let me in I'm Hank Marvin!
Scoffed the lot in the end she did, the greedy oinker
Reed Bunting
Away from the Feeding Station we had a look over the scrape from Horrock's Hide, there was plenty of action to keep us occupied.
Dunnock slipping off a rock - as easy as falling off a log!
Goldeneye (PYLC #74)
12 Goosanders (PYLC #75)
Some roosting Black Headed Gulls
Some more
And again
Female Goldeneye
Our first view of Stock Doves of the day but we waited for them to arrive at the Feeding Station for our challenge pic - did you spot the sneaky Snipe?

The site's speciality the Willow Tits only showed very sporadically and extremely briefly so we weren't able to get a pic of them - we'll have to go back, that'll be a hardship! The site's other speciality are its Kingfishers and on our second visit to Horrock's Hide struck lucky with one eventually posing for us very nicely right in front of the window on a strategically placed natural looking perch after a couple of fly-rounds. Job done!!!
What a great day with only two 'disappointments' other than the fleeting Willow Tits; there was no Mediterranean Gull coming to bread in the car park at lunchtime today and we had hoped that news of the very close-by Blyth's Reed Warbler would break while we were on site so a quick dash round the corner could be made, unfortunately news did break but it wasn't until we were well on our way back to Base Camp and the bird had only been showing intermittently around the time we were leaving so it would have been cutting it very fine if we had have gone and had to hang around for it to reappear...maybe next week? Or the week after if it survives the worst the weather can throw at it.

Where to next? We'll give you a break after reading that lot before we let you know what's been happening closer to Base Camp at Marton Mere this week.

In the meantime let us know who's just too brightly coloured in your outback.

No comments: