Weekly wild news from our reserves - 12 February

Snow at Hen Reedbeds - Sarah Groves

This week saw heavy snowfall across many of our reserves, creating some stunning scenery and extra tasks for the wardens and volunteers clearing snow drifts and fallen trees. The wardens also spotted some more signs of spring and a stash of hazelnuts.

Snow, snow and more snow!

There was a spot of snow drift shifting in order at Church Farm, but it was snow problem for our trusty Massey tractor.

Also at Church Farm, our conservation grazers seemed excited by the snow.

The wardens and interns needed to ensure our livestock had extra food and access to water during the freezing winter days.

At Carlton Marshes, groups of birds gathered across the wetland looking for a piece of thawed ground to feed on, with sights of 97 snipe in a group and 3000+ lapwing gathering to feed. Meanwhile scrape creation work (shallow pools with muddy margins) continued at Oulton Marshes which also helped the winter wildlife by opening up the frozen ground. Birds seen feeding included meadow pipit, pied wagtail, lapwing, redshank, black headed gulls, starlings and snipe. The heavy snowfall left the reserve looking spectacular.

Ellen Shailes, Broads Warden, filmed this water rail feeding at Oulton Marshes.

Steve Hook, Conservation Volunteer Team Leader, had some extra work clearing fallen trees due to the heavy snow at Newbourne Springs.

Hen Reedbeds was transformed into a wintery wonderland.

Before the snow

Our Reserves Team in the West of Suffolk captured several spring-like moments over the weekend before the snow carpeted the week’s events. These included skylarks singing on Knettishall Heath among sightings of redpoll and water vole by the Little Ouse.

Morning at Knettishall Heath - Kim Wippel

Morning at Knettishall Heath - Kim Wippel

At Bradfield Woods Nature Reserve, Giles Cawston, Woodlands Warden, saw hazel stools starting to come into leaf amidst a beautiful display of tiny pink flowers and fruiting catkins.

Hazel catkins and tiny pink flowers at Bradfield Woods – Giles Cawston

Hazel catkins and tiny pink flowers at Bradfield Woods – Giles Cawston

Debs Crawford, Valley Fens Assistant Warden, arrived at Redgrave & Lopham Fen to the rapturous sound of bird call resonating around the valley floor.

Will Cranstoun, West Suffolk Sites Manager, filmed a barn owl quartering Sayer’s Breck, mixed acid grassland and scrub at the western end of Lackford Lakes Nature Reserve.

Joe Bell-Tye, West Suffolk Reserves Assistant, came across this delightfully placed wood mouse stash within the hollowed underbelly of a silver birch tree at Arger Fen this week. Joe said ‘a tree hollow or the crevasses in bark, like this one located at Arger Fen & Spouse’s Vale, is an ideal place to store seeds or nuts. Many animals store surplus food throughout the year to see them through harsh winters and difficult weather periods like this week. Wood mice also store their bounty in underground nests, in old birds’ nests in hedgerows and in bird, bat or dormouse boxes. They ‘scatterhoard’ seeds in ones and twos in shallow holes and will cache larger quantities in underground drainage pipes for example'.

Wood mouse stash at Arger Fen – Joe Bell-Tye

Wood mouse stash at Arger Fen – Joe Bell-Tye