Sunday, August 21, 2011

Waders At Pulborough Brooks

Little StintLittle Stint
Lovely day for waders out at RSPB Pulborough Brooks.  Many people had turned up to see the Temmincks and Little Stints, which had put in an appearance for those patient enough to wait and search them out on the far pool on the North Brooks.

Even with a scope they were little more than specks in the distance which were impossible to see unless they moved and distinguished themselves from the similarly coloured lumps of mud.

At one point both were next to a Little Ringed Plover which helped show the comparative size - tiny!

There were enough experts out spotting, to explain the differences between all the waders - which was just as well as they're not easy - variations in plumage, light, age, juveniles and adults make it difficult for the less expert.  It always helps to have a knowledgeable expert around to help with identification.

It was also a busy day for visitors, including small family groups, who were equally keen to see the birds out on the Brooks and welcomed a chance to see them through the scopes.  I usually have a spare pair of binoculars for those who've either forgotten theirs or come unequipped - although they can be hired from the centre and are essential for spotting the birds further out.

Little Ringed PloverLittle Ringed PloverPlenty of Little Ringed Plover around and a Ringed Plover along with Greenshank, several Green Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper and several Ruff - I counted six but there had been or were eight.

A small group of Snipe were feeding out in the open near the fingers, which was lovely to see, as they're usually tucked away along the edges and more difficult to spot.  The water levels were just about right - plenty of mud for the waders.

I walked back via Winpenny - no sign of any hobbies but did see two Redstart (a first for me at Pulborough) at what's now been named Redstart corner, between Winpenny and West Mead and got back in time for a good slab of bread pudding eaten with a cup of tea in the afternoon sunshine before heading home.

Images via Wikipedia

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Restoring Our Wildflower Meadow on Telscombe Tye

The Millenium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place has created a new project to collect seed from wildflower meadows to preserve them for posterity.

Our very own John Carden from Friends of the Tye was interviewed on BBC Radio Sussex today to talk about the work that we did last year to seed Telscombe Tye with wildflowers.  The feature starts around 1:00 and John is on about 1:30.

Listen again - BBC Radio Sussex - Sussex Breakfast

We'll be holding another Working Horse event on September 24th to carry on this work and plant even more seed on the Tye.  Look out for further details locally and on the Friends of the Tye website.

Some of the seeds planted for:

Ox-eye daisies
Red and White Rampion
Yarrow
Self-heal
Meadow buttercup
Common vetch
Black medick
Black Knapweed

along with several grass species.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tidying up the Pond

What started out as just cutting back the flag iris, ended up as a complete two-day refurb of my half-barrel pond.

Pulled out all the plants, not that there's much in there, the iris roots were taking up much of the space and had completely outgrown their container.  The water hawthorn is still hanging in there but being swamped out by the roots and the oxygenating plant.  I scooped out all the sludge at the bottom which is a very fine silt along with several pebbles that have fallen in over time and grit from the plant pots.

The pond settled overnight and was lovely and clear this morning until I scooped out even more sludge and stirred it all up again.  I'm sure it will slowly come back and the invertebrate wildlife will return.  Much of it is now in a bucket and can be returned to 'restock' the pond if there's anything interesting swimming around.

The old iris rhizomes have been completely dug out and I've ended up with about a dozen leftover plants having replanted three of them.

I also upset the ants which had taken up residence in the plants, pebbles and under the slabs around the pond as I've completely stripped this back too.  It looks a little bare at the moment.  The before photo would have been a mass of iris leaves and not a lot of water showing, edged with cerastium (Snow in Summer), grass and sempervivum getting rapidly covered by the ant's nest.  I've got some stonecrop growing in another part of the garden which will be ideal around the edge.

While clearing everything out, I discovered a frog and one large gold, well - black and gold fish which, as it was gasping for air on the surface in the silty water, I transferred to my 'new' pond.  It and the water hawthorn will go back once it's settled again.  No sign of the frog today, although the fish has been splashing about in the new pond, whether it's trying to make a break for it or just catching insects I'm not sure.  It's got surprisingly fat considering it doesn't get fed.

The 'new' pond is a large container that will just sit on the patio and get planted up with water loving plants and maybe a small fish or two.  More on that later.
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