At last, a sunny day and with the sunshine has come the last of our regular summer migrants, spotted flycatchers. Cuckoos have been seen and heard on the reserve for the last few days and swifts have been screaming over the local villages for a fortnight now. Approaching the end of May, passage migration is slowly tailing off but out on the mud and sand from the Breakwater hide small flocks of waders are still feeding, with ringed plover, dunlin and sanderling seen (the latter in stunning summer plumage). The reed-beds are full of sedge and reed warblers and the woodlands echo to the sound of trilling wood warblers, redstarts and pied flycatchers. Soon, we may get our first hobby sighting as the numbers of dragonflies increase in the sunnier weather. The reserve is looking it's very best now, the woodlands a carpet of bluebells. All we need now is more sunshine!
It was very pleasing to see the raised mire at Ynys-hir on the BBC Springwatch programme last night. The raised mire restoration project has been a long-term project on the reserve over the last 10 years and the project is at last coming to fruition. Prior to habitat restoration work, the area known as Covert Coch was an impenetrable mass of mature Rhododendron with Scots pine growing around the edges. Following funding from a number of sources, contractors were employed to clear the rhododendron and pines. Internal ditches were blocked and a sluice built to retain water on the site. Birch seedlings were cleared and we have introduced grazing by our ponies at certain times of the year. Gradually, over the years (and after much work!) heather, purple moor grass and mosses are re-colonising along with a wealth of specialised invertebrates.What was a species poor wasteland is now a fully functioning raised mire again with breeding water rail, reed bunting, grasshopper warbler and tree pipit.
The picture above shows the mire in 2006 when a start was made in clearing the Rhododendron. What a difference to what was shown on BBC Springwatch last night!
Springwatch’s third year at Ynys-hir got off to a sunny start yesterday, with warm weather and plenty of ice creams all round. Twenty visitors got up bright and early for the Bird Ringing event, lead by Site Manager Dave Anning.
'The bird ringing event was a huge success,' said Dave, 'we caught 20 birds in our nets in the woods next to the Visitor Centre. Things started well with a nuthatch in the net, soon followed by numerous blue and great tits. The highlight came shortly after that when a wood warbler and two pied flycatchers were caught. The amazing yellow of the wood warbler wowed everyone. Mid-morning fewer birds visited the netting area, although a pair of siskins were a treat.
'Unfortunately, we narrowly missed catching a mistle thrush and the great spotted woodpecker refused to come near the nets. Thanks to the BTO ringers who organised the event!'
An Ynys-hir volunteer, Emily Barrington, caught this shot of the wood warbler, and the next two of a pied flycatcher getting its ring put on.
Springwatch itself starts tomorrow night, so stay tuned for more updates on wildlife sightings and activities!