Footprints in the Snow
Wednesday, January 17th 2018
You know the day is going to be interesting when a Pheasant appears to be playing 'chicken', apparently deliberately waiting until it can fly across your oncoming car and be missed by as close a margin as possible. In this case, the margin was down to a couple of millimetres. The snow added both to the difficulty in driving conditions and to the scenic quality of the Reserve. First light revealed several sets of tracks in the snow. Heading out to the Moorland, Fox prints followed the path almost to the gate onto the Middle Moor and showed the change from a gentle trot to a run. At one point, this track was crossed by a fresher set of Roe Deer slot marks, with the outline being more defined.
However, on the boardwalk going through the Scrapes, the snow was in pristine condition for much of the way except for where two Roe deer slot marks suggested that the deer had jumped onto the boardwalk and immediately off the other side as the toes were splayed wide. Roe Deer, Fox, Rabbit and Pheasant prints were the most obvious and were found over many parts of the Reserve including Risedale Beck, the Moorland and the Scrapes.
Moving on to the Lake which is still free of ice, the resident Mallard have been joined by others coming in, and there were at least 16 there during the day and had been joined by two Dabchicks. These were seen on the way to do further work on the trees near the Lake that needed ties and re-staking. After that, the three Junipers were checked after their move out from the Heathland yesterday with two of the Volunteers carefully transplanting them to a new location next to the access road.
This left time to make a start on the Bird Box Store in one of the cabins that remains from previous years at Foxglove Covert before the Field Centre was built.
This is still watertight, and so a range of nest boxes can be stored in here. However, it does need a good sort out to clean it inside and to take stock of what boxes we have. So, although there may be snow on the ground, thoughts are already turning to Spring and the nesting season, and care and maintenance of the nest boxes around the Reserve and beyond will become an increasing part of our work in the next weeks.
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