With spring most definitely here we are enjoying watching each sign arrive, and with the warmer weather our volunteers have been able to crack on with some jobs that just can’t be done in the winter. Here is what we have been up to over the last couple of months…
During the winter months the trees on our Estate can take a bit of a pounding from the weather. Storm Katie did cause a bit of damage on our Nature Trail so whilst we had our tree specialists in we got them to do a couple of other little jobs too. Our Monkey Puzzle Tree (on the left of this picture) was paid some attention and had a bit of a hair cut. It is around 130 years old and now looks like it’s siblings in its native Chile. As these trees grow to maturity their branches lower down their trunks fall off leaving just the crown. Most Monkey Puzzle trees in this country are still quite young so still have their lower branches.
We have also noticed an increase in the bird life, with a pair of mute swans who have taken up residence on our Lake, a number of grey wagtails who enjoy sitting on the overflow of water into our moat and lots of lovely treecreepers hunting for insects on the trunks of our many trees. These birds you see from a distance but get too close and they will fly away. There are a few types of birds that we have here that are less shy, the robins of course but also some house sparrows (pictured) that like to investigate the crumbs dropped around our picnic tables.
We have also conducted our small mammal surveys over the last few weeks, before the breeding season so that we don’t disturb them too much. We conduct surveys so that we can monitor the populations of field mice, field voles and water shrews that we have in the different habitats throughout our estate. We know that a healthy population means we are managing their habitats well and that those animals further up the food chain, especially the birds of prey, have a good chance to flourish as well. In the early spring and late autumn we make at least one of these survey mornings open to the public so that people can come and learn about why we conduct surveys and are with us when we open each trap to see what is inside. Our Small Mammal Survey at the beginning of the month saw us find 9 field mice and 1 field vole (pictured) and we had only set 15 traps, which is a very high number of full traps and a good sign of a healthy population size.
All this has happened along with the weekly maintenance routine of mowing, strimming, clipping and cutting that goes into keeping our 42 acre site looking its best, it keeps us busy but we do enjoy it, especially when the sun comes out!