Winter? Spring? Volunteers

Thursday, March 31st 2016

Depending on which way you look the reserve could still be in the depths of winter:  black clouds and no fresh green colours, only browns and blacks.

Depth of winter?

Blue sky does help to make you think that spring is in the air, even if it is cold air!

Spring is in the air?

A pair of Greylag Geese flew over the ponds, winter vegetation, spring sky!

Greylag Geese flying

These birds are resident in this country throughout the year.  They come to Foxglove during early spring and nest in hidden away places.  Once the chicks have hatched they walk them out onto the moorland.

Greylag Goose

Another bird that returns to us in spring is the Chiffchaff, but it comes from much further afield, the Mediterranean and western Africa, where it has spent the winter.  Our first one was heard yesterday, but they were calling loudly today as the bird ringers opened the nets.  Later, two were caught and processed.  Usually the first Chiffchaff has already been ringed, but not so today; both birds were males and new to the reserve.  Will we see them again during the summer?

Chiffchaff

During the morning a trainee was handed a bird bag.  He eventually removed a Wood Pigeon from the bag, a little larger than the Chiffchaff he had handled earlier.  The Wood Pigeon weighed in at 498.5g and the Chiffchaff 7.6g

The welfare of the birds is always paramount and when taking photographs of birds in the hand great care is taken that they are not stressed in any way.  They are held correctly and safely and are always well presented. 

Each time ringing takes place there are different results.  Earlier in the week we were catching more new birds than retraps, today it was 81 new and 78 retraps.  Chaffinch numbers have been low during the beginning of the year but their numbers are increasing and 27 were processed today.  Bullfinches have also been scare recently but have started to make a re-appearance. 

While to the bird ringers were busy, other voluteers were turning their hands to repairing nest boxes and boardwalks, checking water levels and weighing bird seed.  Yesterday volunteers had helped with the activity morning, showing off their craft skills and working with the children.  Added to all of this a cake had been baked, sausage rolls brought in, and owl pellets hunted for.

Identification skills were on show during the monthly flower walk and twelve flowers were recorded, including, what we have almost positively identified as English Elm.  If you look towards the bottom of the flower you can see the stamen developing, and to the right the stigma.  We know where this tree is and will return to take more photographs and examine the leaves to confirm its identity.

English Elm flower

The skill base of our volunteers is amazing and only a fraction of their activities have been mentioned in this blog.  But if you look through earlier ones you can see what a fantastic range of work our volunteers do throughout the year.  A huge thank you to everyone involved today and to all those voluteers who help in any way at Foxglove.  Foxglove benefits tremendously from all that you do.  Thank you.


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