Arrivals and Departures

Wednesday, December 27th 2017

A short but intense hail storm accompanied by thunder made an interesting start to the day but, as the sun rose, it became clear that the Wetland was the most affected by the cold.  Previously, the Lake and the Scrapes had been the most frozen, but this time they have remained clear. 

The first job then was to make sure that there was plenty of water for the ponies, so 10 gallons were taken to fill up their water container.  Feeling the temperature of Lark, by pushing fingers under the hairs of his coat, showed just how much insulation they have before both ponies took advantage of the new water supply.  Going back to the Scrapes to put apples out on the Water Vole rafts, everything was very bright, still and clear, especially the water.  So clear and still that the only thing that gave away that there was life around was the tiny black speck of a Water Beetle braving clear water to find refuge under a leaf.

The increased cold has meant that more birds are taking advantage of the feeding stations near to the Field Centre and the hides.  The number of pheasants continues to increase with 18 being counted in the Field Centre Garden in the last couple of days. The usual suspects were there, with a range of finches and tits, Nuthatches and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.  These were tested by dashes through by a female Sparrowhawk with no success, even when she changed her route and suddenly appeared from a different angle.  Perhaps the other birds were warned when all the Pheasants suddenly ducked their heads in unison.

In amongst all of this was a Brambling, one of the first to be seen this Winter. Hopefully this will be the sign of more to come and they will become a more common sight on the Reserve in the next weeks.

One of this afternoon's tasks was to move the sheep off the Reserve.  They have done an excellent job while they have been grazing the Moorland, but as they now require supplementary feeding their impact will be reduced considerably. 

What can be a major operation on some reserves was achieved in a couple of minutes.  It was almost as if they knew what was coming as they had moved from being spread out across the Moorland and the Middle Moor to being close to the gate where they would soon be leaving.  There was no further need for herding skills as they all responded to the farmer's Land Rover and a feed bag and, with the gate now open, all went straight through and are now grazing on the grass on the other side of the fence from the Reserve.  Lark and Taurus will soon be moving to continue grazing the Moorland.

Towards the end of the day, a bright moon and clear sky confirmed that it is going to be below freezing tonight.  The forecast is for -3 Centigrade at least, so no doubt even the clear waters of the Scrapes will be frozen in the morning.

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