Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Happy New Year

Pollarded willows near the river.
If you come to Paxton Pits this month for birds; you are in the right place. If you are looking for flowers, you're a bit early..........or are you?  The mild weather has totally upset the flowering times of plants. Wild Arum is already showing so the first snowdrops might not be far behind. Cherries are in flower in Cambridge, so who knows what might flower next at Paxton? E-mail your sightings to

Our New Year's Day event went exceptionally well this year with 259 people attending. My sponsored birdwatch raised £130 even though we only saw 37 species. Highlights included marsh tit, tree-creeper, goldcrest and yellowhammer, but we didn't see a collared dove or a starling! The idea was that people should pay us 10p for every species we found.  I was pleased with the outcome because critics, such as my son, forecast a flop! He even suggested that we start people off with a fiver and then give them 10p back for every species they saw; then there would be every incentive for them to find birds, and for me to tell them they were wrong!

The Bank Holiday Monday was also busy with 193 people through the centre.

Looking back through December, I see that we had 1710 visitors through the centre in the month, making the total number of visitors through the centre for the 12 months of 2011 = 30,087. In 2011 our voluntary wardens put in 586 man/days and our midweek volunteers worked 506 man/days; all figures to be proud of.

Willows invading the reeds.
Hayling Pit.
In the mild December weather we were able to crack on with some hedge laying and also remove willows along the edge of the meadow. Of course, mild weather usually brings rain, and we have had some, but not enough to make up for the drought. All the same, it's still pretty muddy on both trails.

The Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve organise monthly winter work parties on Sundays and these have done some really useful work so far this winter. In October they cleared away willow from a small reedbed in the Hayling Lake; in November they cleaned up a pond within the quarry where there are great crested newts and attacked willows on the shore of Pumphouse Pit. In December they took on the daunting task of removing shoreline willows on Island Pit to conserve a large area of silt that is important for rare invertebrates. On January 8th, we will be working on the islands in the Sailing Lake where most of our terns and gulls nest. This is done every year with the permission and assistance of the Sailing Club.

If you are interested in helping on winter week-end work parties, please contact Mike Thomas on 01480 387749.