Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Friends Enjoy Cake but Kingfisher Takes the Biscuit
(Open Sunday 20/10/13)

The mixture of mild but intermittently soggy weather didn't seem to deter our visitors last Sunday including a few who were seeing HESC for the first time.

Wildlife it seems is all well and good, but when the heavens open for - thankfully not too long - bursts of showers, the combination of a cuppa and a piece of freshly home-baked cake proves an irresistible combination.

Our berries may be Guelder-rose rather than Mary and our Wood, Woody-nightshade, rather than Hollywood, but the FoHESC bakers certainly took all the plaudits this week.

Mary Berry - No - Rose Hips

Berries by the way are not just plentiful at HESC this Autumn, but across most of the UK, with 2013 being declared a mast year. So expect to see flocks of fieldfare and redwing plundering the trees and bushes any day now.

During a gap in the afternoon rain, a few brave souls took the opportunity to clear a bit more vegetation around the far hide and open up the views to the right, looking back towards the bund.

We also delivered some more materials down to the King Fisher Bank (KFB) construction site. Thanks to great work by Neil and his team the KFB is coming on apace and the block retaining walls have now been started.

Talking about the KFB, you may remember from our last post, that I was being extremely cautious regarding the possibility of take-up by out little feathered friends. You could therefore have knocked me down with a small blue feather when Neil showed me this picture taken by Peter Barnes.

This potential new home owner is considering
putting a deposit on an off-plan development
No, its not a trick photo and yes, that really is a kingfisher sitting on the footings of the KFB - I can only hope its a good omen. If nothing else it suggest we got the location correct.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

KFB for Sunday Lunch

Our working party last Sunday (6th Oct) concentrated on two new tasks:

Firstly, the tall vegetation around the far hide was cleared and hopefully, you will all agree, that the views are now much improved, although, if possible (and safe access can be achieved) we would still like to cut back the tree which partially blocks the view of the lake to the right hand side of the hide.

The improved view from the far hide
Whilst the hide clearing was underway, we commenced what we hope may be one of our most exciting projects to date: the building of an artificial kingfisher nesting bank (KFB) on the bund, approximately 50m from the connecting shoreline and facing towards the near hide.

A lot of thought and planning has gone into this project, both in terms of location and construction.

The location has been chosen, firstly, so that good views can be obtained from the near hide, should we be lucky enough to attract some residents and  secondly, we have seen sufficient kingfisher activity in this area over this summer and autumn, to believe there is a possibility of success in birds nesting. The location of the KFB is sufficiently far away from the areas favoured by ducks and waders not to impinge on their use of the bund.

The first stage has been to dig out the footings and
get the shuttering in ready for the concrete base

The bank itself will measure approximately 2.5m x1.5m x1.5m and will be constructed from blocks, set on a concrete base. We believe this sturdy design will ensure it is not washed away, should we see a substantial rise in the lake level over the winter. The inside of the rectangular block structure will be earth filled with sand filled pipes inserted and opening out on to the front face of the bank, to provide the nesting chambers. The roof will be covered in gravel and appropriate vegetation planted around the bank to create as natural a setting as possible.

The shuttering in place, as seen from the near hide

It will take quite a few weeks to complete the task so please bear with us until the job is finished.

You will have noted that throughout this piece I have talked about luck and possibilities, because as always with nature, there are absolutely no guarantees that the KFB will be used by the little electric blue beauties that we hope may nest in it.

The object of our desires,
photograph by Tony Bedford

However, if you don't buy a ticket you can't win the lottery and I understand that the chances of Kingfishers moving into the KFB are infinitesimally greater than me carrying off the big one.

Every cloud as they say!

Work Photos courtesy of Malcolm Stewart


Following on from the above, a small band of Friends got together the following Saturday to lay the concrete base.

Many thanks to Alan, Dave, Neil, Pauline and Simon & Son

Monday, 7 October 2013

FoHESC Images

I'm sure by now that most of you will have realised our new Flickr site is up and running, to visit just click on the link below:

We have already received nearly three hundred images, but we hope that many more of you will also upload your own favourite pictures taken at HESC, so that we can build a comprehensive photographic record of all the flora and fauna to be found on the reserve.
A superb picture of a Hobby clutching it's prey
(a Migrant Hawker Dragonfly, I think)
taken by Mark Baker
Can we please ask that you restrict your photos to only those taken on the reserve and limit your uploads to not more than three per day, but within those limitations, please feel free to reflect any aspect of HESC that you wish.