Sunday, 24 February 2008

The Willow Screen

I went down to the reserve today to fill up the feeders to find that the willow screen had been tampered with. There is now a gap, almost one foot high at eye level of the average person in the screen.
This infuriates me. It is an act of pure vandalism, and the thing that annoys me most is that i am certain that the people responsible for this are bird watchers!!
Do people not understand the purpose of hides and screens? Yes, it to to give people the opportunity to see the wildlife, but more importantly, it is there to prevent DISTURBING the birds. The way things are now, there is little to no chance of any birds breeding close to the screen or at that side of the loch because some thoughtless individuals have taken it upon themselves to create a gap in the screen so they can see better.
I just can't believe that bird watchers would be so inconsiderate to the actual birds and so self-centered. They are clearly only interested in what view they get of the birds, not on the impact this has on the birds themselves. For me, the first rule of bird watching is to do so WITHOUT disturbing the birds.
If the people responsible for this read this, i hope they are ashamed of themselves. They've clearly put no thought into the disturbance they have caused and the results will continue to cause to the birds and also no thought about the time and effort David Blair and his conservation team put in to erect the screen for the benefits of the birds and for the people. I don't expect the people responsible for this to come forward or to make amends. I suspect that they will show true cowardice on this front.
Please be aware that anyone seen tampering with the screen, or on any other part of the reserve will be reported to the police for vandalism. Enough is enough now. It is a nature reserve, for the benefit of nature. We don't need these bad elements spoiling it.

On a slightly different note, please be aware that some sheep from the Flying Flock are now using one of the meadows on the reserve. Please keep dogs under control at all times to avoid worrying the sheep.
And on the dog front. Please pick up after your dog. I don't like stepping in it, and i'm sure nobody else does either. It has no benefit to the nature interests on the reserve, so please remove it.

Anyway, i think I've ranted enough for now. Again a reminder that anyone seen causing damage to any part of the reserve will be reported for vandalism. I welcome any comments, both positive and negative to this post.

Friday, 15 February 2008

First signs of Spring

I've been visiting the reserve quite a bit the past few days for stress relief and to work out some pain while i recover from a car accident last weekend. It has been good, and there's definitely some signs that Spring is in the air!
We've got snowdrops in bloom down at the car park right now, and some of the birds have started singing. It's a real cacophony of bird noise along there right now. I could sit at the screen all day and just listen to the bird noise!
We've also had quite a few birds added to the species list in the past week or so, taking the total up to 35 for the year so far. I'm pretty sure that figure will double before the year is out, too!
I've modified the species list a little to include the date of last sighting of birds (I haven't done it for the other species - butterflies, mammals, insects, plants, etc) since i suspect the majority of visitors to the reserve are there for the birds. I think it may be best to have a last sighting date so that people can see the chances of seeing any given bird species currently. I've also tried to sort it in date order, with most recent sightings first. If you take, for example, the Jay. I only saw one in the whole time i was visiting last year, yet i saw one just a couple of days ago. I wouldn't expect to see them anytime soon, but people might be under the impression from the species list that they can be seen all the time.

Just a reminder that we will be having the local air cadets on site doing some work this weekend. The forecast looks good, so for a rare change, we might actually get a decent amount of work done!

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Raising the water level

On Friday i went to the reserve and I sealed the valve which allows us to lower the water level. The water level should remain pretty high now until the end of summer, when we'll lower it again.
We had planned to do a number of things at the edge of the loch this winter, when the water level was lower. Not least of which was to scrape away some of the encroaching rushes to create an area of bare mud for the Mudwort to establish itself on. Unfortunately, due to the high volume of rain we've had this winter, the water level has never stayed low enough for long enough for us to do any of this work. It is slightly disappointing, but sometimes these things happen. We'll probably try again later in the year, once we lower the water level again.

I'm going to have to make a point of ignoring the weather forecasts for ever, now! I'm slightly annoyed that I've cancelled the latest planned visit by the local air cadets for today due to forecast adverse conditions. Looking out of the window just now it's a little overcast, but it's still dry. It hasn't really rained for 3 days, despite numerous weather warnings for the met office for blizzard conditions! I feel bad about not having them come on site. Apparently they've become quite enthusiastic about the reserve and the work they've been doing and I'd really rather utilize that enthusiasm than let it dwindle.
On the plus side, thanks to Janie, we should have a back up plan for the next time they're due to visit. She's managed to find a source of wood, so if the weather prevents us from going on site, we can use the cadet hall to have the cadets building nest boxes for the birds on the reserve.

When i was on the reserve on Thursday, i managed to see something I've never actually seen on the reserve before. Foxes! We've always known they were there, with prints and scat clearly showing that they've been using the reserve, but this was the first time I've seen the actual animals. I saw one not far from the peanut feeders and another one on the hill near the car park. It sat and stared at me while i sat in the car warming my hands up after spending 2 hours on the reserve in freezing conditions.
As I've mentioned in a previous post. Finding field signs of mammals on the reserve is quite easy, but normally we wouldn't expect to see the mammals themselves. It makes it a real treat when you do, though! I won't be forgetting it for a while, that's for sure!