Wednesday, 9 June 2010

This month at the Pits

I just totalled up the figures for May. We had 3543 visitors through the centre (4045 in 2009). In addition we had 193 people attend our Nightingale Festival. Our Spring Watch event attracted 450 visitors who were supported by 50 volunteers. It was such a delight to see so many families walking in from the village.

When you relate these figures to the weather, we didn't have a great spring and there were frosts in the middle of the month so we were really lucky to see so many people. The construction work was a bit of a hindrance as well because there was some disruption to power and access, and a serious lack of car parking space.

Anyway, the construction bit is finished; well, nearly! We are now connected to the sewers and everything works, all the way from the Classroom to the Visitors Centre and hence to the mains. The old septic tank can now be filled in.

Meanwhile, the classroom is operational; and the first school to use it was Little Paxton Primary School, who came on Tuesday 8th June. There is a massive amount of landscaping to be done, and the phone line has not been connected yet, but the Wildlife Trust's education programme is up and running.

The late frosts had an effect on plants and insects, and probably birds too. Our spotted orchids in the meadow got started early but the rosettes were damaged by frost. The heads finally pushed up this week and we have a massive amount of flowers now. I think that's the pattern; like London buses or tube trains on the Circle Line, everything held back then all coming at once.

Villagers are very fond of the swans that breed on each lake. We have nine cygnets on the Hayling and I think the same number on Cloudy Pit. The locals also love the nightingales, which we thought might be down in number this year, but, after a few late comers we seem to have about 28 territories. The same applies to turtle doves which, though late, have exceeded expectations.

If you walk the Meadow Trail this month, you are almost certain to hear (or be deafened by) a Cetti's warbler. This year we have at least four singing around the trail, and another near Diddington. It's a fairly recent coloniser from the continent. Unlike most warblers, they often stay all year round, but you never see them. If you do, they are like a long, chocolate coloured wren.

Little egrets (small white herons) have been around for some years now, but have not bred yet. They are starting to play with sticks though, so maybe next time?

Our next event for the public is on June 19th when the Friends will host a Wildlife, Cream Tea and Music event. 'Sounds good to me. Why not come along?