Friday, 30 November 2007

New Additions

There have been several new additions to the reserve, of various sorts, both good and bad over the past week or two.
The first one I'll mention is that my friend Janie is now the Reserve Warden for the site. Basically, she will be assisting me with the work i carry out on the reserve. She's very enthusiastic and approachable, so if you see her on site, feel free to stop her and ask any questions you may have (She's easy to spot - she's the one wearing the SWT fleece with the 'Ranger Service' badge on it!)
In addition, she'll have access to this blog so that she can update it at any time. I think we'll try and stick to the normal routine of updating the blog once a week, roughly. Obviously, if either of us spot anything of particular interest, we'll update the blog as soon as we can!
We have another new bird addition for the reserve in the shape of a cormorant, which was seen on monday flying away from the loch (But not since). That's another one added to the list, which just keeps growing and growing! I suspect next year's list will be even larger, since we'll be starting in January, rather than May and we'll be on site more than we were at the beginning of this year, particularly during the migration seasons.

The most interesting new addition for visitors to the reserve is two new seed feeders, mounted on a pole. The feeders are 26" long and a bright blue plastic, so they should be easy enough for most people to spot! A (bad) photo of them is shown below - apologies for the quality of the shot, but it was chucking it down with rain today, so the camera wasn't playing very nice in the low light conditions.

The feeders were only put up yesterday, but already they've proven a bit of a success. There is a pretty constant stream of Coal Tits, Great Tits and Blue Tits darting back and forth to them right now. Although the birds are not lingering long on the feeders, they're definitely making use of them. It's a positive hive of activity there now as a result, with birds coming and going all the time.

The other new additions to the reserve are the negative ones, sadly. The past week or two have seen a large increase in litter being dumped at the car park and dog mess along the paths. I will definitely be mentioning this at the next advisory group meeting, with the hope that we can get a bin installed at the Car Park so that people at least have somewhere to put their rubbish. Why they can't just take it home with them and put it in the bin, i don't know!

And finally, this Sunday morning, i will be giving some of the local Air Cadets a tour of the reserve with a view to them helping out with the litter and some of the coppicing and scrub removal work over the winter. If you see a group of teenagers on site, but off the path on Sunday morning, don't panic. They'll be with me! :-)

Saturday, 17 November 2007

More Bird Ringing

Today was another interesting day at Cullaloe, with Mark coming back on site to do some ringing. Yet again, i had my camera with me and this time i decided to see what it was like in video mode!
For some reason, though Blogger really isn't liking my videos, so i don't seem to be able to upload it.

In total he ringed three Great Spotted Woodpeckers (Making a total of 4 woodpeckers ringed in two trips - three males and one female, all juveniles) more Robins, Blue Tits, Great Tits and Coal Tits.
Annoyingly, we had several groups of Long-Tailed Tit, Siskin and Goldcrest come nearby, but none of them managed to get caught in the net. I would have love to have gotten some photos of a Goldcrest or two!
I was also there to do some work on tree felling at the area which was originally known as the Snipe Bog. This area, we were led to believe originally had Snipe breeding in it. Since discussing this with Mark today, it may be that it is purely wintering birds that have been seen there. He certainly has no recollection of them breeding on the reserve. When going through the area to start work on the coppicing of the trees, i managed to flush two Snipe from the undergrowth, so they are definitely still about!
I didn't manage to get quite as much coppicing done on site as i would have liked, but i still managed to clear a fair amount of the scrub. I plan on returning to the reserve tomorrow to do some more then.
On Monday I'll be giving a talk to the local Air Cadet Squadron and hopefully i will be enlisting their aid with the clearing of the scrub. There is several little projects I would like to get them involved in, if they are willing, but we'll have to see how it goes. We may be hindered a bit by Health and Safety legislation on this one.
The loch has been relatively quiet recently, though we've still got Teal,Wigeon, Mallard, Mute Swan, Moorhen and Coots on it, and normally a Grey Heron or two. Today we did have a Sparrowhawk flying round the edges of the loch, too. (another bird which I would have loved to have seen in the net!)

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Redwings arrive at Cullaloe

I've been wondering for the past few weeks where the Redwings and other thrushes had got to, since the berry bushes at Cullaloe have been laden, but nothing has been taking them. I'm happy to say that yesterday i saw my first Redwings on site! There was a small flock of about 10 birds. They stuck predominantly to the far side of the loch, past the spillway, but i don't think it will be long till they're seen at the hawthorn bushes along the path.
Yesterday was one of the magical days that you occasionally get when visiting the reserve. It seems that since the wind has died down, absolutely everything was out and about. There were Siskins down at the car park, along with a few Pheasants standing on the wall which marks the reserve boundary, there was a flock of approximately 20 Long-tailed Tits at the edge of the large pine trees and mixed in with them was a single Treecreeper. That's only the fourth time i've seen one this year, making it equal to the number of times I've seen the Kingfisher!
I'd commented previously that the feeders had barely been getting any use over the past few weeks. That changed yesterday! There was a large influx of Blue Tits and Great Tits on the reserve, chattering away, and for the first time in well over a month I was seeing five or six birds at the feeders at one time. Recently it has just been one or two. There were also quite a few Chaffinches joining them at the feeders, which is always good to see.
The loch itself had much of the same species as it normally does at this time of year. There were plenty of Mallard, Teal and Wigeon along with the resident Mute Swans. There was also a lone Grey Heron, which was great to see when it caught a fish that must have been at least six inches long! I also heard Curlews at the far side of the loch, but sadly never saw them. They must have been hiding in about the reeds. It's good to know that they are still visiting, though.
The sheer scale of birds on the reserve yesterday was amazing. We even had a flock of about fifty Rooks alight on the tops of the pine trees. Hopefully with the wind now died down for a bit, we'll keep these large numbers of birds on site.

In response to a previous question regarding Weasels on site. I still have not seen any on the reserve itself, but on the way home yesterday, one ran across the road in front of me. It was only about 500 metres past the reserve entrance, so it is a safe wager that the reserve itself is part of their territory.