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Llp blackthorn blossom [harry hingston] 010324 (a)Blackthorn was blossoming in the Pennsland Lane hedge on the 1st, a week after the Blackthorn in the Kiln Close hedge started. Mowing of the winter bird food crop continued and whilst driving the tractor, David saw a Shrew and two Field Voles, one taken by a Buzzard.

On the 4th we had another LLP first when at 9:45am a pair of Mandarin Ducks were seen at the cattle drink/abstraction pool, accompanied by the first Teal Drake recorded on the reserve. At about 6pm the trio were still together, this time at the top of the Flo Pond.

Teal and Mandarin Ducks

The Teal Drake was spotted again with the Mandarin pair on the 5th and on the morning of the 7th three Mandarin Drakes, one Mandarin Duck and a Teal Drake were seen spotted just upstream from the cattle drink. A Grey Heron took off from the Flo Pond.Mateo led a winter bird walk Twenty species were seen: Blue Tit, Robin, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Siskin, Goldcrest, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Redwing, Blackbird, Mandarin Duck, Wood Pigeon, Raven, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Buzzard, Herring Gull. The highlights were the Bull Finches and the Mandarin Ducks.

On a rare dry day David began the ploughing of the bird crop area on the 8th but the damp ground meant the task couldn’t be completed.

On the 13th a Mistle Thrush flew up from the Top Field and a Goshawk flew south over Top Field. The winter bird crop seed was ordered – 50% Spring Triticale, 20% Spring Barley, 10% Spring Oats, 4% Gold of Pleasure, 4% White Mustard, 7% Linseed,  5% Forage Rape and10kg of sunflower seed. We also ordered Cornflower (450g), Corn chamomile (100g), Common Poppy (350g) for the Nectar strip.

Blackthorn clearing by the roadside hedge in the Main Field resumed on the 14th when Harry and Josh were joined by 2 volunteers, Steve and Maeve. In some patches the Blackthorn is almost 20m from the fence line. They finished just shy of halfway through the biggest patch.

By the 16th two of the Plum trees in the Orchard were in blossom and a pair of Mandarin Ducks were seen on the Flo Pond, they flew off up the river where they met up with another male just above the top bridge. On the 17th the pair were on the river below the abstraction pool.

A Chiffchaff was singing from hedge between Kiln Close and Top Field on the 18th and a Meadow Pipit was seen displaying in Top Field. On the 20th local farmer, Peter, very kindly came and completed the ploughing of the winter bird crop area.

21st march (2)

A misy morning on the 21st March. As heat is transferred from the ground to the air, water droplets form.

The dead Birch tree with lots of Bracken fungi and Woodpecker holes fallen down on the 21st over second bridge on The Apprentice Path. It had cracked in two to reveal a large hollow and the remains of a large Hornet nest inside. It was cleared off the bridge and the dead wood was left in situ.

On the 23rd 3 Mandarins, 2 male and 1 female sat on the north end of the island in the Flo Pond together. On the 24 there was a male Mandarin on the Flo Pond, it climbed out and began grazing between pond and river. Is it solitary male or is the female nesting in one of our boxes?

A female adult Wheatear was spotted on the ploughed bird crop area in the Main Field on the 25th. By the 26th Dog Violets and Stitchwort were starting to appear along the Pennsland Lane hedge near Corner Wood.

Crazy weather overnight on the 27th– 28th. Rain, then snow that settled then heavy rain again at dawn which melted most of the snow. Temperatures dropped to 1°C and then came up to 4°C by daylight. The ground here is sodden even at the top of the Main Field.

The mean temperature for March was 7.8°C, slightly higher than our 18-year average of 7.22°C. We recorded our 2nd highest rainfall for the month at 240.3mm, the highest was in March 2023 at 328.4mm but our 18-year average here is 114.66mm so it was more than double that. 27 of the 31 days of the month had rain which was the most wet days in the month we’ve recorded. The ground here is extremely sodden.