Friday, December 28, 2012

Coppicing in Putnoe Wood

I was coppicing the Hazel in Putnoe Wood yesterday with Rangers John and Jane and the Friends group. The weather was kind to us with just a couple of heavy showers during the day rather than the expected constant rain. We managed to work through a good size section of this years plot, dead hedging as we went. The process involves cutting the Hazel back to the stumps and using the cut material to create a "dead hedge" along the edge of the plot. The dead hedge provides a good habitat for insects, small mammals and birds such as Wren and Dunnock. The clearance of the Hazel allows more light to get to the ground encouraging woodland plants such as Bluebells.

Unsurprisingly the ground was very wet under foot with standing water in places, a throw back to earlier years of management of this wood according to John. I haven't seen it this wet since I have been helping out here. The stream that runs along the north side has seldom seen so much water over such a long period, a good thing as it helps to keep it clear of debris.

Back in Priory Country Park the flooding is worse than it was on Christmas Day but, per DK, down on Boxing Day. Wildfowl numbers were noticeably down and, with the restricted access to areas of the park due to the flood waters, it's hard to track down much of anything. The wildfowl have most likely dispersed out onto the various flooded fields that are available at present. Passerines are also hard to come by in the wet and windy conditions.

Given the rain forecast for today and tomorrow it looks like Sunday's guided walk is going to be interesting. Please come in wellingtons as it is extremely muddy with lots of standing water, even in areas not affected by the flooding from the river. Current weather forecast is for a break in the weather Sunday morning which could be good for us and the birds, meet at the Visitor Centre at 9am, Sunday 30th December.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day

Paid a quick visit to the park this morning and the flooding is much more extensive than it was a couple of days ago.

The Crescent is now out of bounds with the water up to the hand rails of the little bridge off the main path.

The Steps are out of bounds with flood water troubling the tops of my wellies!

Water was still pouring into the Finger lakes through the pipe between east Fingers and the Navigation Channel so expect levels to continue rising around Fingers.

The east side of the Finger lakes along side the Navigation Channel is rapidly filling up but still passable. Kingsmead is mostly under water, providing a sanctuary for a lot of wildfowl.

I didn't bother going around to the south side of the main lake as that was already flooded on Sunday so it can only have got worse given the increase in water levels else where.

So wellies are definitely the order of the day, not those new white trainers you got for Christmas!

On the bird front there was a good sized Jackdaw roost overnight and they all departed just after I arrived, around 07:40. A Kingfisher in the north east corner of the main lake was a nice xmas prezzie. On Kingsmead there were 7 Little Egrets with 3 Grey Herons along with a good quantity of Mallards and Geese. Most of these departed in a hurry when spooked by something but a scan for the expected Fox revealed nothing so no idea what caused them all to depart. A couple of the Egrets came back along with 56 Canada Geese and a single Greylag.

From Kramer Hide I had 3 Shovelers (2m/1f) and a Bullfinch was calling nearby.

Finally back on the main path I found the Slavonian Grebe, along the north edge of the main lake, between the Steps and the Spit.