Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Two Tree Island

In a bid to observe some new species for our natural history diary assignment for college, a small group of us descended upon Two Tree Island at Leigh-on-Sea in Essex.  Two Tree Island is a small tidal island with adjoining salt-marsh and inter-tidal mudflats.  We took a walk initially round the west end of the island spotting Common Redshank (Tringa totanus); Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca); Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata); Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula); and most exciting of all Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta).  There were about 8 Avocets feeding in the water demonstrating their unique feeding behaviour of sweeping their bill from side to side under water. 

Common Ringed Plover
(Charadrius hiaticula)
Pied Avocet
(Recurvirostra avosetta)

 Further along our journey we spotted a Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus); Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea); Brent Goose (Branta bernicla) - these are quite a treat in this area; Common Skylark (Alauda arvensis) singing and fluttering above our heads; and Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) hovering above.

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
On the east side of the island we saw Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus); Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) and a Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata). 

Heading into the old town of Leigh we spotted several Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) along the water's edge feeding.  We also saw a couple of them bobbing about in a boat....

Ruddy Turnstone
(Arenaria interpres)

I thought you were bringing the oars?!

Overall, it was a lovely sunny and warm day, albeit a little hazy across the estuary.  We were able to identify most of what we saw and I think we all came away with something for our diaries.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Hanningfield Reservoir

Today I took a trip to Hanningfield Reservoir on the way home from college.  I've never been there before but it was quite nice - a mix of woodland birds and wildfowl.

The species list for the hour we were there was:
  • Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
  • Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
  • Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
  • Mallard (Anas pltyrhynchos)
  • Gadwall (Anas strepera)
  • Teal (Anas crecca)
  • Tufted Duck (Aythya faligula)
  • Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
  • Coot (Fulica atra)
  • Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
  • Sisken (Carduelis spinus)
  • Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
  • Great Tit (Parus major)
  • Long-Tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
  • Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
  • Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
  • Magpie (Pica pica)
  • Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

But the star of the show was a little robin.  Whilst sitting on a bench quietly watching the long-tailed tits a little robin had its beady eye on us.  Clearly invading its territory it came ever closer to investigate what we were doing.  It flew at us a few times, and when we finally moved on it landed on the bench to see us off once and for all.  My new camera has done quite a good job of capturing it so I'm very pleased!!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

2011 Update

It has been some time since my last update which perhaps gives an indication of how absorbed in my studies I have become!  Having to maintain a journal of all my volunteer experience has meant that my commitment to my little blog has slipped somewhat.  I am here to make amends!

Since September I have continued to volunteer at Langdon Reserve and through the Autumn we were predominantly occupied with coppicing about an acre of woodland along the top of the meadow.  We had our annual day with Butterfly Conservation out in force to help us clear scrub on the top meadow.  This is part of an ongoing attempt to create a more suitable habitat for butterflies but in particular to attract the Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae).  The work party report can be viewed here I have also been lending a hand to the Education Officer; helped out with a school visit to the Haven Museum on the reserve and also the pre-schoolers' Caterpillar Club.  Both highly enlightening!

Our recently coppiced hazel stool

Our lovely new section of hedge
At college I have been involved in some hazel coppicing and hedgelaying.  The good news is that all the assignments and exams have been passed to date and I am really enjoying learning again.  We have a few visits planned over next couple of weeks to an RSPB site and also to Tollesbury Wick.  An update on that to follow...

In other news...I have upgraded my camera so hopefully I will be able to post some really nice pictures in future bloggings.  Also, for an assignment I am keeping a natural history diary so I will attempt to post some of those sketches etc once I get started (and yes, I should have started it by now!!).