Our volunteers have been busy in the last couple of weeks up at the northern end of the reserve, planting the remainder of our wildlife-friendly hedge that we started two years ago. The hedge runs along the top 450 metres of the North Trail on the Trent side of the site and comprises a nice mix of native species including common hawthorn, field maple, common buckthorn, guelder rose, wild privet, common dog rose and common dogwood.
The first 300 metres were planted in 2016, however we then had to wait until our large outfall sluice into the River Trent was installed, before we could plant the last 150 metres. That day finally came however and we got straight to work planting the 955 trees!
After 3 days of hard work by our Sunday, Friday and Monday crews, the plants were all in place and looking fabulous! An amazing effort by all and huge thanks to everyone who helped!
The trees that were planted 2 years ago are looking excellent too and some are now taller than me! Such a great success and it surely won’t be long before the whole length is providing a home for a wealth of wildlife.
We’ve been treated to some great sightings too whilst hedge planting, with buzzards, fly-past oystercatchers returning to the site for the spring, stunning marsh harriers and barn owls and a beautiful flock of 40 (yes 40!) yellowhammers feeding on bare ground around the sluice area – future inhabitants of our new hedge perhaps!?
Hedge planting on a very cold, but sunny Sunday.
The finished article!
It’s an interesting time of year at Langford, where the end of the winter starts to meet the beginning of the spring and it feels so good after a long dark few months!
One of the first signs that things are starting to change is the twittering song of the skylark. I was delighted to see and hear my first one last week, followed by more yesterday at the southern end of the reserve.
There are plenty more birds starting to sing and hold territory ready for the forthcoming breeding season too and robin, wren, dunnock, blue and great tit have all been heard on site in the last week. Song thrush and blackbird in my garden at home provide a clue to which species might be next!
Male wildfowl are looking stunning at the moment and whilst most will move to more northerly climes for breeding, we are always treated to the fabulous displays of male goldeneye at this time of year. As of last week, they have started and birds have been seen from the Beach Hut displaying to groups of females out on the water.
Other wildlife highlights of the last week include a stunning female marsh harrier, barn owl, bittern and we now have up to 10,000 starlings back each evening. They are best from around 16.30 onwards, best viewed from the platform on the Cromwell Trail. Great to have them back after their disappearance in December!
Snow, wind, rain, mud, Stuart and Tony had it all on Sunday whilst carrying out the January WeBS count. The number of species they picked up during the survey hopefully made up for their Himalayan expedition-like conditions:
Greater black-backed gull
Black headed gull
A marsh harrier was also on site, with this species having been seen on a regular basis right through the winter period. Keep you eyes open for them flapping lazily and low over the reedbed looking for their lunch... normally being pursued by a few aggravated crows.
Excitingly the starlings seem to back roosting at Langford on a regular basis now, with the increasing water levels no doubt making them feel a bit safer when they go down into the reeds to sleep at night. It's always tricky estimating the numbers, but there must have been 5000+ on Monday evening when I filmed the short and noisy (it was super windy) and initally blurry video below. Feel free to pause the video at an appropriate moment and try and count them for yourself!!
As mentioned in the previous blog posting, please note that the car park will be closed between 5th and 9th of February.