While I now seem to be able to post blogs properly again, I'm not sure that readers will be able to read any comments that become attached. For some of us this Blogger system seems to get more confusing by the day. Anyway, if you do want to contact me about any of my postings, my E-Mail address is at the bottom of my Profile and I'm happy to accept comments that disagree with me just as much as those that do. Can't be getting like one blogger, who screens out remarks that contradict his opinions before we actually see them - so you only read nice comments and he's always right - a very sheltered way of life!
Anyway, back to the real world and here we are a month past the Shortest Day and yet to me the mornings seem to be getting darker rather than lighter, Ok it's a gloomy day today but it took till 8.00 to get properly light. It seems that every minute we gain in the afternoons is being added on to the mornings at the moment. You can see how dull it was this morning in the attached photos, fortunately I'm not an avid photographer and so the light doesn't bother me too much in that respect.
We've now had a large flock of sheep introduced to the reserve, for reasons I've yet to understand or be convinced of, and boy are they skittish. It seems the minute that you get within a 100yds of them the whole flock runs off, en-mass, giving the impression that I or my dogs are chasing them. I decided to give that half of the reserve a miss this morning and so stayed in the area around the reserve's barn and cutting some willow whips for planting seemed a good idea. So I walked back up the track to the small farm thicket that we enter the reserve through, its nice and bare and vegetation free at the moment, which gave me a chance to inspect the several nest boxes I'd put there last year. Around 50% of them had been used and I'll add one or two more in the next couple of weeks.
The one shown below is only about 10 yds away from the approach track and yet in the summer the Cow Parsley grows so tall in the thicket that the box was completely hidden.
Along the edge of the thicket is a line of Crack Willows which are cut back every 3-4years by the elecricity board because they grown up underneath overhead power lines serving a farmhouse a small way away. It was done last spring and the re-growth as you can see, is quite rapid and privides ideal whips for pushing into the ground. Willow roots ridiculously easily when sinply pushed into the ground and I simply go along the edge of a ditch and push the whips into the soft mud at the edge and hey presto, nice willow trees or few years later.
As I've mentioned in previous blogs, its something I've been doing for around 20 odd years, with some good results. See these mature willows in front of and screening the barn.
These ones in the foreground were whips, about three foot long, that were pushed in along a ditch just two years ago, with another mature line in the background. Its giving a new type of habitat around and spreading out from the barn, and attracts and feeds passing migrants such as ChiffChaffs and Willow Warblers.