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Making tracks

Friday, December 1st 2017

As it's the first day of the meteorological Winter, predictably the weather got warmer, although there was still plenty of ice and snow around.  This gave a good chance first thing to look at the tracks left by wildlife overnight.  For those who have found it difficult to spot the Roe Deer in the Reserve, and the odd one who has said that they didn't believe there were deer around, there were plenty of tracks to be seen around the Lake hide and the Field Centre.

Even more elusive have been Foxes.  While definitely around, their ability to keep out of the way of visitors to the Reserve can be in marked contrast to some of their urban cousins who can be quite brazen as they move around their territories.  Fox prints, like a dog's but more oval in shape, were found around the lake and the Cascade Ponds.

One Fox has been seen recently, which was very much both a chance, and a brief, encounter.  The large male was sitting in the middle of the access road at dusk when he was caught in the headlights of a car before making off into the undergrowth.  He features on the species sightings list kept on the board in the Field Centre, with 29 bird, 22 fungi, 36 flowering plant and 6 mammal species which were recorded during November.

The large number of bird species seen includes those making use of the feeders at the Field Centre and near to the hides.  WIth seed and peanuts available in the Field Centre garden this morning, it became clear that some of the larger birds were using their size to push others off the feeders.  Two Magpies were happy to chase of the smaller finches and tits from the best food but they met their match when the Jackdaws moved in.  This all changed when a female Sparrowhawk used the cover of the building to launch an unsuccessful ambush.  For a few seconds after the flash of dark brown across the grass, no birds could be seen.

The feeders are regularly filled on a Friday morning by Colin, one of the volunteers.  He also checks the small rafts used to put apples out for Water Voles to feed on.  With ice across the ponds, there was no sign of voles but the apples have been put down as the weather is due to warm up and hopefully the ice will melt over the weekend.


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