With the wader breeding season drawing to a close we are now counting the flocks of fledged Lapwing chicks to record breeding success at the Reserve this year. We had a very successful season, monitoring 34 Lapwing nests and 5 Redshank nests across our wader meadows. building on our use of thermal imaging from last year to find and record nests in the spring we were also able to use it to find and track the hatched chicks.
We recorded 108 hatched chicks from the 34 Lapwing nests recorded, and 15 Redshank chicks, we know there were atleast 2 more redshank nests that we failed to find. Redhsank nest deep within grass and rush tussocks making them incredibly difficult to find even with the thermal camera
Unfortuantely due to the Coronavirus pandemic we weren't able to ring the wader chicks this year and we have to make a best estimate of chick fledging rates. The reserve currently has flocks of young lapwing up to 70 strong which would indicate a fledging rate of 2.05 chicks per pair, well over the 1.7 chicks per pair needed for a stable population.
We thought this bird had left us to continue its migration to Africa but on Oct 2nd whilst carrying out fish surveys in the project the Osprey came to check out the staff and Rick Harvey was quick enough to get this blurred (his words not mine) shot but good enough to get the leg ring code. I have now emailed Roy Dennis for the details so watch this space as they say.
It has now been in the area for at least 33 days.
During today’s count, the family of Mute Swans that bred across the river from KFB came into the project giving me a chance to take some poor photos of the family. I wanted to do this because one of the cygnets is white rather than the normal dirty grey/brown. This is known as a Polish morph and happens occasionally in Mute Swans and we sometimes get them in Cambridgeshire.
The female is on the left with the "Polish morph" between its two siblings.
The "Polish morph" is second from the left. Here the cygnets are 14/15 weeks old.
The Osprey was still around yesterday, though the Great Whites were absent when I was there in the afternoon. But seen again today by Ade Long! There has also been three juvenile Hobbies putting on a nice display catching dragonflies during the last few days.Here is a shot taken by Ian Barton recently.
It was a brilliant day for the weekly bird count at KFB. Not only was the weather superb but the birds weren’t bad either.
The Great White Egret was feeding in the dyke in front of the hide and whilst watching it, there was a reflection on the water of a Kingfisher - it was sitting on a branch just a little further on. Later there were two Kingfishers standing on the ground on the edge of an island. That was quite unusual; normally they are up on a branch or on vegetation, but I’m guessing they were siblings as Kingfishers are usually solitary birds out of the breeding season.
Then the bird I was hoping for appeared from the south and headed straight to the lake; the juvenile Osprey on its 20th day spent in the area. Although I had seen it on the day it was first reported from a friends narrow boat I was travelling on, I had yet to see it at KFB. Not only did I see it, but I saw it catch three fish during the morning and on the first occasion watched it perched in a tree across the river for 40 minutes tucking into its breakfast.
What made it even more satisfying was later whilst I stood on the river bank overlooking the lake from the west side, a couple from Kent came along who I had met in July and as I told them about the Osprey it appeared again. It did a bit of fishing, catching one on its third attempt and flew off with it. That was nice!
Thank fully most fish species have faired well, with Rudd numbers only slightly lower than normal and Tench recorded for the first time in the Lake. Unfortunately Common Eel numbers are very low and may require restocking. There are still several areas to net so Eels may be available to breeding birds in other areas of the Reserve.
We regularly check our section of the river and a short way upstream to recover and remove these mats where possible. This helps to minimise Pennywort build up along this section of the river and should help to prevent re-colonisation of the New Cut channel next year if the Water Buffalo manage to eradicate it.
The riverbank following alongside the old waterway to the SSSI North-Pit; a former Victorian limestone quarry, has now been fenced off the main river for two of our Water Buffalo; Donald and Dumbo, in an experiment to tackle the Floating Pennywort.
Floating Penny-wort is an invasive weed from south America which was accidentally introduced to the UK as a plant in domestic ponds. Over the last decade is has become a major problem along the river cam, particularly the upper river and its tributary's as well as spreading to close by water bodies. In high summer when the growth rate is highest it can form floating mats which completely block the navigation channel, costing the Environment Agency many thousands of pounds a year to remove mechanically. However within the Main Project area of the Nature reserve it is unseen, we believe this is due to grazing by our breeding Water Buffalo herd. On the washes the Highland Cattle do graze it as far as they can wade into the ditches but as the water buffalo will happily swim and eat we believe they have eradicated it within the Buffalo grazed parts of the reserve.
Donald and Dumbo (our castrated, tame males) have already begin to graze the floating Penny-wort in this latest experiment at Kingfishers Bridge and we have high hopes that they will clear the ditch by the end of the summer. The outcomes of this experiment may have valuable implications for managing the Penny-wort on the main river.
Reserves Manager at the Kingfishers Bridge wetland creation project in Cambridgeshire.