Aug 22 2018

Owlet Wood Update

Hello everyone, summer update on the Owlets plantation nature reserve.

Well the summer season started off with some expensive repairs after someone decided to relieve the reserve of two of its kissing gates and 40 foot of fencing, all taken during the night and at weekends, the incident reported to the police who have been making extra visits to the area.

Thanks to James the manager and our designated contractors, the gates where replaced and fencing repaired in a matter of a couple of weeks.

The large potholes the carpark  caused by the late “beast from the East” and attracting many complaints also had remedial work carried out, which hopefully will keep us going and the complaints hotline quiet for a period!

On the wildlife front, with what appeared to be a good start to the breeding season, we have had both good and some disappointing news.

On the good side,a large number of the nest boxes I have put in the wood over the last couple of years were occupied and many fledglings produced, including resident blue and great tits and robins. Numerous wrens and blackbirds also bred, swelling our numbers of common residents to a healthy number. We also had more blackcap nesting than any previous year which is great,willow warblers seemed to be holding their own, with numbers about the same as last year.

However, chiffchaff numbers seemed to have plummeted this year, with only 4 birds regularly being heard, and these seeming to depart quite a lot  earlier than usual. Spotted flycatchers where obvious by their absence this year, with one pair being seen early May and looking like they where going to nest, but vanishing after a week and no further sightings anywhere around the wood all summer, for the first time. I can never remember having no flycatchers nest in the wood .

There are also no Woodcock again this year, now several years since we had any breeding in the wood, and a big drop in the area of swallows, house and sand martins,but think that is national.

On the positive side we did have at least 2 pair of garden warblers in the wood, which were spotted with nesting materials, so we are hopeful that they had successful broods.

If anyone else has seen a drop in numbers of the chiffchaff and spotted flycatchers in their areas, we would be really interested to know.

Butterfly numbers early on were virtually none existent ,but this last few weeks numbers seemed to have exploded, with the brown argus in particular having large numbers, normally only a few of these about, but this year there are lots, also peacock, large and small whites and green veined whites to name but a few.

The wood in general is now getting to be very quiet, birdsong wise. Now they have bred, most have fledged their second broods. With not having territory to protect or mates to attract, its time to fatten up, for the migration, or replenish the lost weight after raising their young, so no wasting the energy on singing

Best regards to everyone

Des Lloyd – Volunteer Warden, Owlet Wood

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