Friday, 2 October 2015

Nature Reserve Update

Whilst updating you on the animals, I have had a few people ask me about our nature reserve... A lot of you have noticed far less trucks coming and going this year, and are keen to find out how it's doing? Well, it's doing fine!

Imagine the above photograph covered in wildflowers!

OK, it's not there yet, but the work is complete. The landscaping is done and the newer section of the reserve is 6 acres of, what we hope we can encourage, to be wildflower meadow. Currently the reserve is off bounds to the general public, but we hope in a few years tim dot be able to open it up for you to wander around during our open hours.

Our water vole population is booming down there, and many sightings of voles and signs have been seen this year by students studying them. Recently we have prepared their release pens for next season. We hope to really boost there numbers next year to not only make them even more visible, but to also encourage them to venture in to the new section of the reserve now it is compete. 

Our harvest mice, after a slow start, have had an exceptional year of breeding too. We have done several releases over the summer, and this week released possibly our last group for the year. We have ventured further away from the board walk this year, in the hope of establishing a new area of mice on the reserve. Given time the two areas will join up with suitable habitat encouraging them to spread even further.

We still have a few places we wish to release mice around the reserve, and then can begin to look further afield for future projects.

A little know secret is that our reserve is actually a relocation site for reptiles. In the past we have had slow worms, grass snakes and common lizards relocated here. The grass snakes are often seen about, more so than our actually display one in fact, but the slow worms and lizards are far more elusive.

We do have reptile sheets dotted around the reserve though, left to warm up in the sun and provide cover/shelter for our local reptiles. Next year I will make a point of sharing our finds with you occasionally. This is where you get the best chance to see our other reptiles. We have also re vamped our hiberneculums in preparation for them entering hibernation this year.

Our three highland steers have spent most of the summer out by our spinney, but will soon relocate to the reserve now that we are able to shut the gates again! This means they will provide you with lovely photo opportunities again (fingers crossed for snow!), as well as settle to the reserve to start their job of managing and grazing.

You remember our old gate we used for photography?... What am I saying, of course you do... it was a stunning gate. Unfortunately time has taken its toll though, and it has been through a bit of bad times. 

We have managed to salvage it though, and from one gate have made two props we can use for our owl photographic days. Talking of our owl photographic days, we have taken on board what some of you have mentioned, and we now have benches for you to rest and sit on at the locations around the reserve were we set up the shoots. 

And of course, the herons are still here, as bold as ever. I often get asked the best place to photograph these from? Well it depends on what you are after of course, but I would suggest forget the boardwalk and head to the second car park. The herons are used to people being there, and you are fairly close allowing good chances to take a nice pic!

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