Last Sunday I went to Bagmere with Crewe & Nantwich Conservation Volunteers (CNCV) to work for Cheshire Wildlife Trust. We got on with our usual task of fighting back the encroachment of tree saplings onto the fenland landscape and burning what we cut. Unfortunately, the wood has to be burnt on site due to inaccessibility for vehicles and the distance from the road. However, it’s no hardship for most of us and some (well me, actually) always look forward to the colder months when we can have a big fire – there’s no better way to finish a task than sitting around a fire in the last of the day’s sun, as the flames die down and the last of its heat keeps you warm – marvellous!
I returned to Bagmere on yesterday to start my winter bird surveys for the season. Like the breeding bird surveys I do for Cheshire Wildlife Trust, I visit the Trust’s Bagmere and Blakenhall Moss reserves to record bird species. Unlike the surveys in spring and early summer, the winter versions are simpler as I only note the number of individual birds of each species I see.
Walking around the reserve on Saturday was lovely, the sun had broken through the early morning fog and a bright blue sky emerged. I spent just less than an hour walking from one end of the reserve to the other and recorded 22 species altogether. I didn’t find anything unusual but it was good to start the surveys with a reasonably good list.
Unfortunately, as with the four breeding bird survey visits between March and June and last of the previous winter bird surveys in January, I didn’t record willow tits, a red-listed species. This means that I haven’t recorded them at all so far this year across all the survey visits and several tasks with CNCV. The Wildlife Trust installed some nest boxes for them in the early spring, in the area of the reserve where I had last recorded them and I spent some extra time in that area to see if they were around. It would be a depressing finding if they have disappeared – this is only the second full year of surveys I have done at the reserve, with my surveys being the first ever undertaken at the site.