Thursday 28th February

Sorry, but there was a missing table from yesterdays blog, please find attached.
Today is the last day in Feb and Natural England have put up the annual "keep your dog on a lead" notices, which applies from 1st March to 31st July.

We have been seeing a lone Long tailed Tit at the feeders both am and pm, it is quite unusual to find them alone at this time of year, only can presume it has got separated from the group.
Mergansers have been visiting the long pond for a few days now and managed a photo of a pair.

This morning was initially very cold but as the sun rose it soon warmed up, bring appreciated by the Teal and Chaffinch.

Bob and Bri

Wednesday 27th February

This dry spell has finally started to dry out the ground and it has allowed us access to the last three bird boxes to be checked out for last season. It has been very good with 8 out of 10 success, as can be seen from the attached table the number of successes has increased each year, here’s hoping it will continue. Box No 5 had bees nesting after the Blue Tit had left see photo, last year we had Buff Tailed bees in Box No 2.
All boxes cleaned and repaired ready for this years birds.

Bob and Bri

North End Bird Box results 2012.doc

Friday 22nd February

Well it’s goodby from him.

Bill Shaw paid his last visit to North Walney Reserve as Cumbria’s Natterjack Officer for ARC, he is leaving to take up an Ecology and Land Management Conservation Officer with North Yorkshire Moor National Park.

The visit also included a transit around the shore from North Scale to Earnsy Bay to count any dead birds, this was an annual event which always finished with a couple of pints in the Crown, and this year was no different.

A couple of the ponds have been suffering with a green moss which blocks the light and engulfs the tadpoles, Bill brought two bags of Barley Straw, the cure, in his rucksack, they must be anchored down but not touch the bottom, not as simple as it sounds, we missed a great opportunity to video the attempts, but see photos.

We have known Bill from when he came to North Walney as the warden and have had the pleasure of working with him on various projects on the site and as the ARC representative.
We wish him and his family all the best and good luck for the future.

Bob, Bri, Ian and Geoff

Heron & Carp again

Hi, bit of deja vu today, same as last thursday the heron was in the same place at the fishing pond and had another carp in its beak. This time however the carp, about the same size again, appeared dead as the heron dropped it and picked it up easily. Bri was attempting to get a closer photo of it but it took flight without consuming the carp. Now did it return for its catch late we will never know. Where the fish lay, very close to the bank it is very flooded and not possible to get to see.
Also when crossing the heather path we saw about ten fieldfare and six redwing fly from the same tree.

Bri and Bob

Thursday 14th February

Poor old Heron no card, chocolates or roses, just a big fat Carp.
Natural England installed a new disabled entrance gate by the Butts, but without further work by BAE to create better access across and down the old tip, it’s really redundant. The first time this gate was installed by Martin (Natural England) it lasted a couple of months before it was stripped and used as firewood, hope this one fares better. See photos.
Snowdrops are just starting to open up a sign spring is on it’s way.

Bob and Bri

Snow & Snails

Posted by Ian

Nasty day yesterday,snow and rain all day,found the remains of another fox under the snow,natural causes?,I don’t think so.Nice morning,although there were lots of snow pockets still around.First light watched a barn owl hunting over the old tip,probably making up for poor returns over the last two days.Very rarely hunt in bad weather,their feathers are not very waterproof,but great to see.The afternoon was even warmer for a change,counted over thirty fieldfares amongst the dunes,they are still here due to the banded snail population,and feed on them them with relish using their ‘anvils’ (see pic).

Catch of the day

Well what a different day to yesterday, yes the sun was shining and all the snow has gone. Is spring around the corner?
As we descended from the old tip and walked along by the fishing pond we thought we saw plastic in the reed at the far side of the pond. However it was a heron with its head down in the water….why ? Well after a few moments all was revealed the heron through its head back and in its beak there was a small carp, Bri’s estimation was that it was around 2-3 lbs in weight. It tried to swallow the fish but it was putting up one hell of a fight so the heron submerged its head in the water again. Again after 20-30 seconds it had another attempt at swallowing its catch. After another attempt it was swallowed and the heron held its head and neck in a straight perpendicular fashion as the carp slid down the gorge to fill the belly of the heron. To help it on its way it took three or four gulps of water to assist its passage. Bri and I joked that the heron would not be able to fly for a week with all the weight it had consumed. On our way back the after 90 minutes the heron was still there sat on the bank of the pond. Usually herons take flight when humans are that near…..we will see tomorrow if it gets in the air…..we are sure it will !!

Pictures are to follow from Bri (resident photographer)

Bri & Bob

Monday 11th February

A very pleasant but cold morning, a couple of deer passed us twice, we have not seen any for about three weeks. The reserve is being hunted regularly by poachers using dogs and we thought the deer may have been taken.
In the afternoon I came across four Long-tailed Tits, feeding on the tarmac road, could not see what they were eating. Managed to creep up to within 10 yards before they flew off into the trees. Normally these birds do not stop in one place long but after I walked past they returned to the same place, and only a few steps further on, my attention was drawn to both the dogs, both had stopped and had their noses up, following the line of sight, there was a Roe Deer only six or seven yards into the brush and looking straight at me. It must have been watching all the time while taking the photos of the birds, but then it was off just a little too quickly to get a clear photo.
Natural England have employed contractors to install a new entrance to the sight at the rifle butts, photos to follow.

Bob and Bri

Friday 8th February

According to the geese, the winter must be coming to an end, skeins have been flying north for a few days now.
Chaffinch have been singing each morning and today there was a Dunnock giving his all, another sign winter is on the wane.
Lots of Goldfinch and Greenfinch at the feeders.
Today we came across our first caterpillar of 2013 a Fox Moth, out of the hibernation and looking for the first feed.
Also today one of the Air force large transporter plane flew over the airfield, and where we standing it was totally silent, these machines fly so low and slow, it makes you wonder how they stay up but when they come from behind unnoticed until immediately a few feet above, could cause involuntary bodily actions.

Bob and Bri