Thursday, August 18, 2011

Seasonal Change

Newlands Phase Three Reed Bed Project
It was a balmy 5C when I left the boat at 6am this morning, Orion was rising to the East and the Pleiades were well up, a definite sign of autumn in the air!

It’s great to be back in the fold once more and this was going to be my second visit of the week to Brandon Marsh after an eight-week layoff with back problems.

On Tuesday I was delighted to be able to completely walk my usual circuit, the highlights being: Hobby, Ringed Plover, Green and Common Sandpiper, with Teal and Shoveler now beginning to arrive back in small numbers. Today I met up around 06.30 with Jim Rushforth our site recorder and we had an excellent start to the day when a Sparrowhawk was seen around Grebe Pool as we passed the wind pump. While we were scanning a second raptor whizzed thru’ shortly followed by at least 200 Lapwing up from the adjacent East Marsh Pool. Our guess was Peregrine but we can only reflect on literally a few seconds observation so we’ll leave that one as un-recorded!

More signs of the seasons changing when a small flock of 16 Siskin flew over our heads as we passed by the Sheepfield Gate. Large numbers of Swallows were also moving through constantly throughout the morning. East Marsh Pool had the usual selection of waterfowl with Shoveler and Teal continuing to arrive. Other highlights before moving on to Carlton Hide were Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Cetti's Warbler, Goldcrest, Kingfisher, Barnacle Goose and Common Sandpiper, plus the Jays have begun their Acorn harvesting in earnest with at least 10 birds seen today.

Garden Warbler
Carlton Hide provided the best viewing of the day with a second Kingfisher and three Green Sandpiper, but in particular lots of Warbler activity in the Elder and Bramble: Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, plus Bullfinch, Goldfinch and Song Thrush were all recorded. The phase 3 Newlands Reedbed project will be ongoing for at least another fortnight and the plant machinery has now begun to excavate the new pools. I just pray we’ll have enough water in the present climate.

Despite the best efforts of the conservation team Teal Pool is now completely devoid of water and looking around the other pools the situation is becoming quite critical. The River Avon is probably at its lowest level for many years. Even here at the marina the water level I would estimate is at least a foot down on normal and restrictions are already in place at Napton Lock Flight, where traffic is only allowed through from 10 am until 2pm to safeguard the dwindling water levels!