Sunday, 26 January 2014

Looking at the patch with a Warden's eye

On Saturday 25th, I met Ben Lewis at Surlingham Church Marsh to begin my new role as volunteer assistant warden at both Church Marsh and Rockland Broad. I was thrilled when Matt Wilkinson had asked me if I was interested in the part time role, which upon investigating could easily be balanced with birding and school. During an average winter month, I probably visit Church Marsh three times and Rockland Broad once. My role here requires a once per month check of water levels and vegetation length, WeBs count, safety check and the odd bit of maintenance. Yesterday was my induction, and after being issued with a saw and pair of gloves Ben and I set off round the muddy track to get a feel for the job description. I was lucky enough to explore off piste, which as well as learning a little about reserve management delivered my first Woodcock of the year here and around 10 Common Snipe. I can see now why the Snipe like it out here, although they would do well to avoid the cattle's tread. The corner of the reserve parallel to the small lake is proving particularly productive at the moment, with what was probably the largest mixed flock of Redpoll and Siskin present in the Alders, well over 50. Other bits of note included a Linnet over, c.180 Lapwing over and later that evening 76 Golden Plover South.
Rockland was quiet for birds, as if often is. 11 Tufted Duck, 2 Great crested Grebe and 14 Coot the best we could manage. Whilst there does not seem to be quite as much maintenance, pruning etc to do here, there are some complex conservation and land ownership issues which Ben made me aware of. 

So, I am now a warden of sorts, of my patch! Doesn't get much better. I have learnt and gained so much from watching wildlife at Church Marsh; it will feel good to put something back. Thanks to the guys at Strumpshaw for giving me this opportunity. 
I'll try to use the saw sparingly although the usual landscape photos may now be accompanied by impressive examples of my pruning 'skills'. 

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