October and November on the reserve

27 Nov

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Thanks to all the Tameside volunteers that have been on the reserve working hard.  Lots of jobs have been done on site the main one being the clearing of tern island in preparation for the nesting birds next year.  This is always a hard but a rewarding task, this year we cleared; re gravelled and added a few chick shelters for the first time.  We’ve had a few more trees to plant and have been continuing our hedgerow work, both the new wood and the hedgerows are taking shape.

It was our AGM last month and Ian our records person gave us a useful summery of all things Tameside so I have included this below for all who are interested.  NOVEMBER 008

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Tameside Nature Reserve – sightings 2015
Introduction
A relatively quiet year as the reserve settles down after a number of years where the extent & periods of flooding have been well above normal. The following list is not exhaustive & reflects the observations of volunteers & visitors to the site during the year.
Birds
The resident duck species, gadwall, tufted duck & mallard all bred well & were joined in the winter by teal, goosanders & occasional shelduck. Coot bred well taking up residence in the stream, a couple of the ponds & the lake to the possible detriment of moorhen which do not appear to have had a good year. Great crested grebe were present on & off throughout the year, but although showed signs of wanting to breed, rather frustratingly, they once again failed. The level of the lake during the summer has been fairly stable so successful breeding would seem to have been possible. Additional small rafts might be the answer. Little grebes also made the odd appearance.
Black headed gulls bred on the tern island, but in much reduced numbers, about 40 pairs, down from 80. This is possibly due to disturbance by a dog swimming to the big island in spring, disturbing birds that appeared to be preparing for breeding. Disappointingly, no common terns bred this year, although they were seen feeding on the lake & river from time to time.The oystercatchers successfully raised one chick. A small flock of lapwing wintered as usually. Three resident birds stayed throughout the year, but no evidence of breeding.
Snipe were present in the winter. Kingfishers were regular seen with evidence of breeding just off the reserve. Little egret & heron were seen on & off throughout the year & belatedly a great white egret ( new species for reserve)
Warbler numbers were strong. Willow, reed, sedge,grasshopper warblers,,chiffcaff,blackcap,whitethroat & cettis warbler ( a new species for the reseve)
Raptors were represented by regular sparrow hawk & buzzard, infrequent kestrel & occasional hobby. A tawny owl was spotted in the owl box in the wooded area by the canal, but did not stay ( probably disturbed) It was heard from to time hooting so probably bred close by. Only one barn owl sighting, although they have been seen close by so we are hopeful they will return on regular basis shortly.
Both great spotted & green woodpeckers were recorded along with treecreeper.
Another good spot were six spotted flycatchers close to the aqueduct in late summer. It is possible they nested on site. A wheatear made a brief appearance on the bare earth section on passage in May.
Fieldfare, mistle thrush & redwings visited during the winter. Long tailed tits bred well ( over 30 birds seen in one flock) as did blue & great tits.

Butterflies, moths & dragonflies.
The reserve took part in the ‘Big Butterfly Watch’ during the summer. It was a reasonable year with the following species recorded;- Orange tip, large,small & green veined white, meadow brown, gatekeeper, ringlet, small copper, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, small & large skipper, common blue(good numbers),peacock, speckled wood, brimstone & clouded yellow. Caterpillars were seen for small tortoiseshell & brimstone(feeding on recently planted alder buckthorn by feeding station)
Angle shade, pink barred & elephant hawk moths were seen along with several dragonfly species including migrant hawker, ruddy darter,banded demoiselle & common blue damsel fly. Both of these species types are under recorded. Suggest we do surveys next year.

Mammals
A very successful mammal survey revealed three species, wood(field) mouse, common shrew & short tailed vole. Other mammals included weasel, mole, red fox ,muntjac deer & brown rat. The variety & number of mammals caught during the survey is positive in that we should see kestrel & barn owl return to hunt as it is likely mammal numbers were adversely affected by previous years flooding.
A bat walk organised by the Canal & Rivers trust along the canal towpath to the aqueduct revealed at least four confirmed species for the reserve ( daubentons, noctule, soprano pipestrelle & common pipestrelle). We await a full list from the ‘The Batman’ who took away recordings from the evening for analysis.
Reptiles, amphibians & fish
Common & marsh frogs recorded. No snake sightings, although likely to still be present. Difficult to know the numbers & variety of fish although shoals of small fish, probably fry were observed hiding under the dipping platform & in the link. There were good numbers of probably chubb close to the aqueduct & pike have been spotted in the lake & the stream. A heron was photographed catching a perch. Again, it would be useful if we could somehow undertake a fish survey.

Plants
The ‘new’ meadow on the upper east side of the reserve has done exceptionally well considering it is only it’s second year. Notable species were red campion, musk mallow, kidney vetch & vipers bugloss.
The areas adjacent to the stream continue to be wetter during the year than previously. As such damp loving plants continue to thrive ( meadowsweet, ragged robin, marsh valerian, bur-marigold, marigold, purple loosestrife,fleabane, forget-me –not, gypsywort & angelica). Water plantain, arrowhead, flowering rush & water mint present in the stream. Frogbit is doing well in the fringed water lily pond.
The meadow areas around the lake continue to thrive with knapweed, ribbed meliot, tufted vetch, cuckoo flower, cowslips & toadflax.
The second annual plant survey in May showed a small increase in the percentage number of plants included in the survey (cuckoo flower, ribbed plantain, red clover & selfheal) confirming that the quality of the meadow is improving.
The newly planted trees & shrubs continue to develop & some ( although not as many as expected ) have fruited well, particularly the guelder rose, dogwood & rowan. I’m optimistic of a good fruiting year next year. It was pleasing to observe brimstone caterpillars on one of the newly planted alder buckthorn as they were planted in part to encourage this species.

Although a relatively quiet year, there were still a number of highlights ( 2 new species , the mammal survey, the new meadow, the increased number of damp loving plants & breeding success of kingfisher & oystercatcher) aswell as the inevitable set backs ( great crested grebes failing to breed, the non return of the common terns & the lack of barn owl & kestrel).
The recent years of excessive flooding have impacted on the dynamics of the reserve so it has been difficult for the reserve to establish any level of consistency, with some winners & some losers. There is obviously little we can do to influence this.
In addition, some bird species that might have stayed on Tameside, may have been attracted to Middleton lakes as the RSPB reserve there settles down( e.g lapwing, common tern & wintering ducks) . This could well be a double edged sword though as in due course we are likely to see some overspill of their species to us. ( Avocets & cuckoo would be nice for starters!)

All in all we should be very pleased that all of our hard work is paying dividends. I’m sure 2016 will be a good year for us. Thanks everyone.

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One Response to “October and November on the reserve”

  1. Marion Parnell. November 28, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

    What was Dave doing, guarding the biscuits?

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