Saturday, 23 April 2011

Portbury Wharf field trip 23/4/11

A gloriously hot and sunny spring morning with 6 members attending a tour of the hides and scrub. Wharf lane was full of birdsong with lots of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcaps in song.

The main north pool had all the usual suspects on them including nesting Canada Goose and Oystercatcher.

We saw a Magpie catch a slow-worm along the path towards the tower hide.

Another trip is planned for May, the ducklings should be out by then.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Hunting, gathering, shelter building...and tasting!

This week Trinity pupils age 10-11, walked from school in the footsteps of the Hunter/Gatherers who would have lived off the land and established the first farmland at Portbury Wharf in Neolithic times. They looked at the plants that would have been foraged and tasted sorrel which thrives very near the Wharf Lane lay-by. Nearly all the children liked the taste! To further their 5-a-day, they later tried the rhizomes of reedmace and common reed - these were less well received, but some found them palatable. We talked about the huge efforts needed to get food, and saw a roe deer antler, found near the foreshore that day. Hare are still breeding at Portbury Wharf and would have been an animal prized by the hunter. Now they are protected by law, but we looked at their smaller cousin the rabbit, introduced by the Romans, which was both farmed and successfully colonised the countryside. The children then imagined they had been out on a long hunting trip and needed to make a shelter for the night. After some good teamwork to successfully build their shelters, they walked back to school to enjoy a well earned school dinner.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

We enjoyed a lovely walk, in glorious weather, around the reserve this morning with a group of local National Trust Conservation Volunteers. It was great to have so many eyes for spotting the wildlife. The pools were relatively quiet today but the hedgerows were quite lively. We saw 2 male Redstarts on Wharf Lane, 8 Wheatear on the South Pools field, 3 Cetti's warblers, 8+ Blackcap, 12 chiffchaff, 1 little owl and 20+ willow warbler (over several observations).We also had the good fortune to see a slow worm and an otter spraint.

Water vole burrows can be seen more easily as the water level has dropped slightly and the new growth of vegetation has only just started to spring up. We have been carrying out water vole surveys along with a postgraduate student over the past couple of weeks. Rafts have been placed near the rhyne bank, baited with apples, to record presence/absence along different stretches of the rhynes. The presence of water voles is indicated by the presence of their latrines or eaten vegetation (their teeth cut the vegetation in a distinctive way). There is a picture below of one of the rafts- so if you come across one have a look through your binoculars to see if there are any latrines (please leave it undisturbed). From initial surveys the signs are very positive for a strong water vole population on the reserve.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Busier air traffic over the reserve

A great picture illustrating some of the birdlife on the nesting island yesterday afternoon. A curlew was also spotted on the island being chased away by the oystercatchers. Between now and mid May will be the busiest time for Spring passage migrants on the reserve. Anything could drop in at any time. Today we had 5 Yellow wagtails on the island- a red list species. They are a Summer visitor that will Winter in Africa. It is likely to move further North to lowland grassland. Many thanks to David Gale for the photograph.

Portbury Wharf March 2011 in Pictures

Many thanks to Pete Blanchard for kindly sending these pictures taken on the reserve over the last month.