Sunday, 11 May 2014

May update

There has been lots going on here lately, rangers have busy and so have the birds.

We have moved our Hebridean sheep from a couple of our areas of limestone grassland to allow the flowers a chance to grow. You may have noticed if you have visited that there are still a few sheep in the area adjacent to the car park, this is because it hasn't been grazed for a few years and nettles and hogweed have become well established as well as certain grasses that outcompete the delicate flowers. A small sheep presence will remain for the next few weeks in the hope that they will keep the growth of these unwanted species to a minimum.

Timber has been sold, this has been done in the form of cut and split logs, deliveries of 3 metre lengths to local farms on our timber trailer and on lorries carrying 25 tonnes at a time. The timber is from our annual programme of sustainable woodland thinning work and is our only form of income at Wenlock Edge, it is vital for us to be able to carry on the conservation work that we do here.

Birds are nesting all over the woods with many of them making use of the nest boxes that we have put up over the last 5 years. The boxes are all checked by licenced bird ringers and so far we have found nests of Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch and Pied Flycatcher. All chicks will have unique rings attached to a leg before it departs the nest so that future movements can be tracked.
The nests are all at different stages with some chicks being ready to ring i.e a few days from fledging whilst other are still having eggs layed in them.
Above is a Pied Flycatcher nest with plenty of room for a few more eggs to be layed yet. They are the only migratory species to nest in our boxes and we didn't even know that they used Wenlock Edge to breed until we started this project.

Sometimes the boxes are used by other creatures, in the past we have found wasps, bees, hornets and woodmice in them, nothing though can beat this
There are now 2 Dormice building their summer nests in our birdboxes, they are quite rare but there is a healthy population on Wenlock Edge. Dormice are arboreal meaning they spend their lives off the ground (apart from when they hibernate). They often build their nests in clumps of bramble or in hedgerows but do use specific Dormouse boxes (they have a hole on the back next to the stem of a tree). Its great to find them making use of empty bird boxes and the records we collect about them will add to our knowledge of the species on the Edge.

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