Thursday, 24 March 2011

Mid March

Have you seen our mammoth? The big hairy structure at the entrance to our Environmental Education Centre has been completed by the Green Team (Inspire) from Hunts Regional College. Go and have a look.

The Friends AGM was held last Friday night and was our biggest so far, with over 130 people attending. It was a really inspiring event for all of us.

I released our 2010 visitor figures on the night.
70 Schools brought 1428 children; 77 Groups brought 1369 people and 26 events attracted 1482 visitors. The total number through the Centre in 2010 was 37,303.

The last few days of fine weather have pushed spring into overdrive. The Rangers and volunteers have been out doing last-minute vegetation management jobs before the buds burst and the sap rises fully.

Many birds are already nesting so we have to avoid major projects that might disrupt them but the first summer migrants are only just starting to arrive. You may hear chiff chaffs singing from the tallest trees but it has been hard to find any other migrants. We have seen just one swallow and one sand martin so far.

Birds of prey are displaying high overhead in the blue sky. Today there were five buzzards wheeling and mewing above the visitors' centre and a male sparrow hawk was performing his ariel antics over the allotments.

Insects are very much in evidence at the moment. I took the photos of a peacock and a comma butterfly on a blackthorn bush yesterday, but there are lots of brimstones and a few tortoiseshells around as well. Today I saw my first bee fly of the year.

The blossom on our hedgerows is looking fabulous this week while on the ground you can see masses of violets, lesser celandines and coltsfoot flowers around the trails.

I have heard frogs croaking from both Rudd and Hayling Lakes and there are smooth newts in the smaller ponds, but I have not found a great crested newt yet. I've been looking for grass snakes in all the usual places, and finally saw one today from the road. It was swimming across the sailing lake.

This week-end we have a bird count on Saturday and a Friends volunteer work party on Sunday. To find out how to get involved in future projects, just ask in the Centre.