Repairs and Rewards
Thursday, March 17th 2016
The dullish start to the morn was soon forgotten when the sun broke through and bathed the reserve in spring warmth. The sky was a fresh palate of blue, and the birds were in full song. If you like the place in the cold, wet, dull of winter then you will love it in the sunshine.
As Tony was away today I assisted Mike with trying to discover the low water problem in the wetlands. This I hoped they had solved last week, but the major leak that was plugged was superseded by another unknown water-draining-away problem. We decided to see if a Water Vole had dug another hole from the fingers source pond to the one below. This is a narrow stretch of dam which the last Water Vole hole had drained much of the water from. After digging a trench of spade width for about 5 metres it was obvious we had not found the problem. I then, on hands and knees, crawled along the bunds for signs of Water Vole holes. Yes, I found a few, but they did not go further than a foot or so into the bank. Dejected by the lack of progress, and the thought of trying to find a needle in a haystack, I walked on trying to find another source of the problem. Within 5 minutes I discovered an up-flow of water, an obvious hole in the bund. So Mike and now John came over to assist me digging down to the problem and blocking the hole. The hole was about 60 to 75 mm in diameter, and very obvious, stretching below water level from one pond to the lower pond via the 3 metre wide bund, and exiting below the water line. With the bank now solid again we retired for lunch having marked the skimmer pipe to see any increase in water levels.
When I had been walking the bunds I noticed there were more Otter spraints, a lot of activity in the last few days! Also, there were about three piles of frog spawn on the dry grass with white frog entrails, and in one pond half a frog - just the legs! I know that Otters eat frogs, as well as the odd Water Vole, and the extra activity from them here on the wetland is probably down to the large movement of frogs to the ponds. Maybe not all the spawn left on the grass was a result of a Heron but our Lutra lutra friend.
It is not often I get to see the top of my streamlined head, thanks Mike!
After lunch we ventured out to the scrapes and the leak in one of the wooden dams coming from one of the pond dipping stations. It was an easy fix in comparison to the wetland problem. We want to raise the levels of the pond here to allow better water access for the educational visits we have coming up. I left Mike to make an extension to the wooden dam, while I glued a few loose boardwalk grips. The glue I was using was more of an experiment, as it will have to contend with hot, cold, wet, and footfall.
While all this was going on John, our resident sparky, was backwards and forwards from wetland hide to Field Centre to lake hide, literally on his bike, to solve the on-going issue of faulty cameras. This is no easy task and requires him to go up and down ladders, working out a system that seems a little bit of a puzzle, at least to me!
Whilst we were viewing the Field Centre bird box camera feed, we noticed a Blue Tit coming into the box and taking a mouth full of bedding away. Shame it was not using our box, but at least Spring is in the air!
I finished the day with some of the last strimming I will be doing, this is for the Pepper Saxifrage. We anticipate that things may be pushing through … we hope!
Thanks again to Mike and John for their constant help and hard work.