On Friday 6th and Saturday 7th June we celebrated the start of the next expansion phase of the reserve with our neighbours at the quarry. Bardon Aggregates put on a very special event to mark the start of excavations and restoration work which will result, over the next ten years, in a greatly expanded reserve. The Friends fielded an army of volunteers to act as hosts and guides and to assist with moving displays, marquees and furniture around. Bardons supplied transport, a buffet and a marquee by Diddington Pit where we could all view the project. A very nice touch was to hire a giant scissor lift, which allowed up to five people at a time to get aloft for a view of the entire area.
Baroness Barbara Young of Scone gave the keynote speech and set a really positive and informal tone for the event, which was enjoyed by all.
The bird watching at Diddington was amazing. The top bird for me was a male red-footed falcon that stayed around for quite a while. It was my first sighting of one, ever. Other stars included red kite, buzzards, hobby, dunlin, little ringed plover, yellow-legged gull, egrets and a bar-headed goose. Over 50 species were seen from the one spot, prompting Trevor Gunton to remark that, if we are getting this many birds at this early stage, just think of the quality of birding we can expect later on.
On Saturday we had the public day, with even more activities laid on. Attendance was steady rather than frantically busy so we were surprised to see that over 470 people had attended by 4 p.m.
Afterwards we all needed a good rest, but that was not to be because Sunday 8th was the date for our early morning bird count, so many of the volunteers were back in the field from 7 a.m. to see how many nightingales, turtle doves and other birds we have breeding this season.