Alas, dear reader, not much appears to have happened on the Manor Farm reserve this past week. There are subtle signs, with tracks abound, but of a wheeled nature. There are hints that a tiny amount may have been done around the pump. Any work appears to have been shifted to the Hampshire part of the reserve.
The new pump is galliantly chugging away and has lowered lake levels considerably. Cormorant island (or more correctly archipelago) has resurfaced. In another week or two I should be able to walk out on to it again. As it was the channel between north and south Cormorant lakes was sufficiently low for me to cross. However, with the foul weather I didn't take the chance of walking along the gravel bank that separates the two lakes, only to have to walk back again.
Talking of weather, the cold snap arrived with commendable accuracy, as forcast by the Met office. It wasn't snowing when I got up and had my breakfast, but when I set out at 7:20am it began to chuck it down. Small flakes, almost like hail, that stung exposed skin in the brisk wind. The softer, wet big flakes didn't arrive until I had finished my walk.
It was also one of those reverse days, as I call them. It was 1.5 degrees centigrade when I set out, and 0.5 degrees centigrade when I finished my walk at 8:30am. I then went grocery shopping, only to see the temperature fall to -0.5 degrees centrigrade when I finished at 9:30am.
The cold temperatures and brisk wind meant that most wildlife hunkered down. The lakes on Manor farm were strangely empty, as was Stone crusher lake on Fleet Hill farm. Even the normally reliable and raucous gulls were largely absent. Though I think they hung out in Manor lake.
I did manage a couple of decent shots of a Red Kite and two Lapwings, even in the bad light. The kite, rather unusually, flew quite close and over me. They normally steer well clear of me. Oddly, I was wearing a rucksac with bright orange straps. I still had to process the photographs heavily in FastStone in an attempt to brighten them up due to the very poor light conditions.
As for the Lapwings, they let me within 20 yards of them and didn't budge for the minute or two I tooks my photos. I was clearly visible to them, what with the orange straps on my rucksac, and they knew I was there. Normally I can't get within 75 yards of the birds; even without the orange straps.
It must be the cold weather that makes them reluctant to fly. Or perhaps they are getting used to your mad blogger clomping around the reserve.
I almost managed to snap a photo of a Skylark, but my nemesis (10/10 cloud) fooled my camera. It wouldn't focus. There are at least two colonies of Skylark. The three I see on the Manor farm grasslands, and the one I almost managed to photograph today. This particular one is resident, I believe, on the Hampshire part of the reserve. I often hear it/them as I walk along the south footpath. Other members of the Moor Green Lakes group had confirmed the existance of the Skylarks on the reserve.
My new trail cam fared better this week. I think one reason for this is that I camouflaged the spruce support I mounted it on - the Roe deer in particular steered clear of it the first time as it was a bright beige colour, but seem quite happy with it now brown, black and green. I may also have positioned it more appropriately. I still reckon I haven't got it right, as it seems to take 5-10 seconds to warm up - rather than the advertised 0.5 second trigger time.
Regardless of which, this week it fired 58 times, capturing a fox, Roe deer, Pheasants and a badger!
I was dead surprised about the badger. I can't see any tracks. Quite surprising seeing as the ground is quite soft where I staked the trail cam, and badgers are quite heavy. I also can't work out if there was only one badger or two. The trail cam captured it twice on the same night, though the pictures were too indistinct to see facial features clearly.
The fox was clearly injured on Tuesday 13th March. It limped on its hind right leg. By Thursday 15th March the limp was all but gone; so much so I inititally thought it was a different fox.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.