Sorry it's been a while since I've posted. I've been really rather busy of late. I've just started my second year of my college course and I've recently changed shifts at work, so things have been a bit hectic.
Quite a lot has been happening on the reserve over the past few weeks, though. The mess that was the paths appears to have cleared up now. The paths are certainly more accessible than they have been for a while. There's even been some regrowth... we've got grass growing where a few weeks ago there was just mud!
As i'm pretty sure Janie mentioned on her last mammoth blog post, the water level has been lowered on the loch. This exposes mud at the loch edges, giving various plants and animals all sorts of opportunities. Just last week, we had our first Redshank visiting the reserve. An excellent sighting! We've hopeful that over the next couple of weeks, as the autumn migration continues, we'll maybe get a few more interesting sights.
The valve is due to be sealed at the end of this month, to allow the water levels to come back up.
Now, onto the plans for the winter months.
It's going to be a busy period from now till March. This is when most of the maintenance work is carried out on the reserve, when there is no chance of disturbing nesting birds, etc.
We will be having the local Air Cadets on site again this year to assist with several tasks. The main task, like last year will be the clearing of the willow scrub at the Snipe Bog.
This is done to try and bring the area back to boggy conditions, which are more favourable for the Snipe and some other bird species.
The cadets will also be helping clear out the weeds on the spillway.
The other task they will be performing is not a fun one for them, or for us. They will be helping us clear the litter from the reserve, in particular from the pool that is used by illegal fishermen.
I can confirm now that 6 fishermen have been charged for illegally fishing on the reserve by the police. As a result, i can only assume as an act of reprisal, the fishermen have cut down the 'No Fishing' sign at the entrance to the pool. Unfortunately, the wildlife trust does not have the funds to replace it at this time.
In honesty, it was probably the most stupid thing they could have done. The lack of sign does not prevent them from being charged when fishing on the reserve. In fact, after discussions with the local police, it will now be the case that all of their fishing tackle will be confiscated if they are caught fishing - if any fishermen are reading this - You've been warned!
The SWT conservation team will also be working on the reserve over the course of the winter on various tasks. They will also be taking part in coppicing and willow scrub clearance, but more importantly, SWT have managed to secure funding to replace the viewing screen at the loch.
The conservation team will be erecting the new screen at some point during the winter (It's still in the design stages, but as soon as we know exactly how it'll look, you can be sure we'll pass the information along here!)
Dates have yet to be confirmed for most of the work being carried out this winter, but once they are, they'll be added to the calendar (link to the right).