Thursday, 29 March 2012

Summer Was Ere!

Well the weather is hotting up and so are our preparations for the new season. We have attended our biannual ranger's day, where all the rangers from the Lake District and South East Cumbria and Morecambe Bay get together to find out what has been going on in the area with the other teams. We spent the day at Grizedale Forest which is owned and managed by the Forestry Commission and had the opportunity of wandering through the woodlands looking at what they have to offer.

Our regular ranger meeting took place at Acorn Bank where we worked together to transform an area of felled poplar trees into a wild play area....I don't know who will have more fun, the children of the rangers!

As well as other rangers, we have been meeting up with our Interpretation Officer to put together some information boards to explain the ecology of our Natterjack Toads and the way we look after them.

Back on the reserve, you might have seen us out with a big white globe above our heads and walking in strange patterns. Well against popular belief we haven't gone dune crazy we have in fact been mapping scub and water courses on site. We also nipped down to Plumpton Marsh to start mapping the erosion there too. All this information was collated using a real time GPS contained with in a rucksack with a handheld palmtop. The data will then be transferred onto the computer using Mapinfo and will be a great resource in the future to look at changes on site.

We've had the Mind group in again this month and our regular volunteers have been helping them out burning up the remaining bracken scrub we cut down last month. The regulars have also taken up the boardwalk nearest the car park and replaced it with brand new timber. We've had a number of comments from our visitors about how good it looks, so a BIG THANK YOU goes out to our Vols!

The Police have been visiting us as part of a new initiative to educate people the correct way to enjoy a protected site like Sandscale and also to crack down on the use of motorised vehicles on the beach and in the dunes.

Wildlife Sightings

As well as the usual practical conservation work the volunteers have been participating in Shoresearch to survey the rocky outcrops further out in the estuary. Our finds have included Common starfish, Shore crabs, a plethora of different sorts of shell fish and one of the biggest sea slugs our Marine biologist has ever seen!

Our first Natterjack Toad calls were heard on the 23rd March when the sun was out, it has unfortunately turned pretty cold and might mean they won't be out again for a few days.

As for our birds, the "firsts" are coming in already. The chiffchaff was heard on the 21st March, with a sighting of our first wheatear on the 27th March.

Our WeBS count totalled 2007 birds from 33 different species, with an amazing display from a pair of Peregrine Falcons taking advantage after we had flushed some ducks up.

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