What a lovely warm, bright morning for a stomp around the Fleet Hill farm part of the planned new reserve. After dropping the memsaab off to take part in the Wokingham walk, I descended on Fleet Hill farm and walked along bits I haven't presented you with in this blog. Those bits are the bridle path that Cemex created last year.
The planting of trees west of the wooden footbridge is very extensive, with quite a lot more still to go in. I do find the position of the trees a little puzzling as it would screen the reserve from both the new bridle path and the existing footpath. Granted there will be viewing points, but it does seem a little odd to screen so much of the reserve.
At the end of my jaunt I did spy trays of plug plants awaiting planting. They kind of looked grass like - possibly reeds. I know there is meant to be extensive reed planting on Fleet Hill farm.
The highlight was spotting a Hobby flitting about the northern edge of the reserve, near the woods. I did see it last year but wasn't able to photograph it. Today I managed to haul off some shots, even though the blighter was partially screen by a hedgerow. I managed one shot that was quite decent, given the limitations of my ancient cheap second hand DSLR and Tamron 14-300mm lens.
I have the DSLR set to an ISO of 200 which makes fast moving shots a little tricky with fast shutter times. I might try it at its max of 1600 (told you it was ancient) as I read that the xTi isn't bad at this ISO setting. Not much I can do about the paltry 10MPs though. It can still take great photos, even with its ham fisted, naive owner at the controls.
I was a little surprised at how little wildlife there was on the Fleet hill farm part of the reserve. It is possible that I went at the wrong time i.e. mid morning and not winter. I know there are huge numbers of birds around during winter months. It is also possible that although the most advanced in terms of restoration, Fleet hill farm was also the most recently active as a reserve, plus there would have been disruption last year due to the restoration efforts. Even so, some Lapwings have made it their home, and were having territorial battles. The usual plethora of Mute swans, Mallard, Coots, Moorhens and Tufted duck were around.
Over the coming months I plan to get more acquainted with this part of the new reserve.
I started my walk at the Longwater road entrance to the footpath through Fleet Hill farm. I followed this round to the wooden footbridge, with its new Kissing gate - the metal kind to stop motorcyclists entering the reserve. Then I struck off west along the unadopted bridle path to the western edge of the reserve, where it abuts Fleet Hill farm. I went off piste (remember I have permission to do so) to return to the wooden footbridge via the middle set of lakes.
Now the wildlife bit. I will start, dear reader, with two photographs from my garden. I was well chuffed to observe at least eight Starlings industriously hunting for Leatherjackets in my lawn and edge of borders. Partly as they are helping control the damaging Leatherjackets, but mainly as their numbers have increased markedly since last year. I wasn't able to get all eight that I observed at once into one photo. There may be more than eight, as they flitted to and fro.
I managed some rather nice photos of the Great Crested Grebe which appears to have relocated itself back to Lower lake now that the weedkiller spraying has stopped. The weedkiller is killing off Dock, Nettles, Himalayan Balsam (still loads of these left), and other non-grass species. Not sure if this is a good idea or not, as apart from Himalayan Balsam the other species do host a lot of wildlife.
I find that the Great Crested Grebe and the Little Egret are tamer and more accepting of humans on this lake. I suspect it is because so many people walk along the bridle path bordering the edge of the lake. I've never been so close to a Great Crested Grebe. Even the viewing hides on Moor Green Lakes do not get me this close.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.