Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Sunday January 20th

Following the snowfall it was decided to open the Centre for a shorter period than normal, however, hot drinks, nibbles and warm wildlife viewing were still available for the brave and hardy souls who wanted to witness the reserve in her winter pelage (courtesy C Packham) first hand. So apologies to anyone who visited in the afternoon and found us closed, and, well done and thank you to our earlier visitors.

Probably the best spot of the day goes to the three male Goosander who found a patch of open water to share with our usual collection of water birds. Sadly our brave and intrepid photographer was neither brave or intrepid enough to go back out to try and capture some distant pictures of the Goosander Three, so instead, please find a few pictures that give a flavour of the reserve on Sunday.

Familiar paths took on new magical qualities and places to play identify the animal track.

Robins appeared at every turn begging for a little food

and Dunnocks turned themselves into feather balls to keep warm

Entrance to Santa Grotto?

Pheasant crossing the frozen pond to raid seed from the woodland feeders

Mrs Chaffinch samples the seed sorbet

and lastly our perennial favourite, the Willow Tit found time between 
sorties to the feeding tables, to pose superbly.

All photographs © Tony Bedford

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Urgent weather update for 20/01/13

Copied from a FoHESC gmail sent to all group members today, Saturday 19th January 2013...

Dear All,

Please take note of the following warnings and information if you are intending to visit the nature reserve for the FoHESC Open Sunday on 20th January 2013.

Be aware that the single track road is not treated with grit or salt along its length from the main road to Hanson Environmental Study Centre and therefore should only be used with an appropriate level of caution. This road is currently covered with snow and ice, the temperature is not forecast to rise above freezing during the weekend and more snow is likely tomorrow morning.

Due to the prevailing weather conditions, suitable outdoor clothing, including footwear, is essential, and care should be taken on paths within the reserve.

The Centre will be open for refreshments and facilities between 10am and 1pm only.

Your attention is drawn to point 5 on the rear of the current visitor permit. Should you be unable to find this, the quote in full reads:

"Milton Keynes Council accepts no liability for any loss, injury or damage caused in any way whatsoever to persons or property during the use of this permit."

Please remember that you visit the site at your own risk and are responsible for your own safety.

That said, if you have been tempted by watching BBC Winterwatch this week and would like to walk to the reserve to see what wildlife is about, then you can be sure of a warm welcome and a hot cup of tea or coffee.



Monday, 14 January 2013

HESC January Wetland Bird Survey



Andy Harding recorded the following birds on the HESC lakes on Sunday (13/01/13) as part of his December WEBs survey

G.C.Grebe 3
Heron 6
Little Egret 4
Cormorant 4
Mute Swan 33
Canada Goose 20
Wigeon 127
Teal 26
Gadwall 15
Shoveler 1
Mallard 3
Pochard 58
Tufted Duck 107
Coot 115
Moorhen 1

Don’t forget the 20th January is an open Sunday – we look forward to seeing you.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Happy New Year from All at FoHESC

Welcome to our first update of the new year and a big thank you to everyone who turned out last Sunday for our first working day of 2013.

Although at first the air was slightly damp the assembled crew took advantage of the mild weather and soft ground to erect a screen along the exposed bank of St Peters lake and to install two more benches.

One Purl one Plain - the screen starts to take shape

It is hoped that the screen will provide a little cover from people walking along the path that runs between the two lakes, so that birds on the St Peters side will not be so easily spooked and so provide a better viewing opportunity. 

The finished screen

For most of us this was our first attempt at building a screen woven from loose willow and other cuttings and spare timbers, so we may need to revisit the project occasionally to carry out maintenance and modifications. Having said this, I think most of us were pleased with our first effort and can add the experience to our rapidly expanding skills bank.

How may Friends does it take to drill a hole?

We also took the opportunity to install two new benches - one at the corner of St Peters Lake (not far from the turn off to the far hide) and the other by the side of the path in the near meadow quite close to the original hibernaculum).

As is customary we also enjoyed a break for tea/coffee, biscuits and I suspect the last mince pies for a while - thank you Pauline and Jane - although this time tiffin was taken in the woodland hide which gave an opportunity to note how quickly the water level has started to drop and to view a little wildlife.

Quite a few Pheasants that have been scattered by the local shoots have taken up residence on the reserve and have started to learn about the seed that can be found near the tables in front of the woodland hide. Some of the cock birds have really glorious colours, although they are pretty feisty towards each other, so you may well witness a punch up or two over the coming weeks, until they naturally thin out and move into new areas.

Walking the plank seems preferable to dodging the bullets

For those of you who are not familiar with pheasant shooting the season in England runs from Oct 1st to Feb 1st, so if the birds on the reserve stay for another few weeks they can then look forward to a safer spring and summer - although the foxes on the reserve do not observe the closed season!

We also still have small flocks of Repoll and Siskin mixed in with Goldfinches flitting around the tree tops and Goldcrest are regularly seen near the woodland hide. The main lake holds good numbers of common wildfowl, although the bund has still not recovered enough yet to provide much of a habitat for waders.

Although Britain's smallest bird, Goldcrest can regularly be seen around the woodland hide

We will be continuing with the open days on the third Sunday of each month and welcome ideas for any other events you would like to see arranged over the coming months. We hope to see you again soon.

Working party photos courtesy of Malcolm Stewart,
Pheasant and Goldcrest by Tony Bedford