Winter work party update

Trevor Coughlan gives us the latest from the Work Parties at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve

Visitors may have noticed that over the last few months, there has been some rain! However, I am pleased to report the wet weather has not deterred our volunteers, in the fact the number of work party volunteers over the last three months has been higher than in the same period last season.

We have continued our work improving the habitat for nightingales and other summer migrants, particularly in East Scrub. We have also undertaken maintenance on the exclosures, including vegetation clearance, fencing repairs and replacement of rotten fence posts. At least the wet weather means that the ground has been soft which made bashing in posts easier! We have now finished our work in this area for this winter although further work will be undertaken in future years in accordance with the Reserve’s Management Plan.

The Management Plan details the work to be undertaken on the existing Reserve and the extension to ensure the Reserve is maintained and improved for both visitors and wildlife. The Friends liaise closely with the Rangers to ensure our work parties are coordinated with the work undertaken by the midweek work parties. Senior Ranger Matt is a member of the Friends’ Conservation Management Team which meets monthly to review progress and ensure the Plan’s objectives are achieved.

Other work undertaken by the Friends’ work parties during the winter has been further willow clearance in the Hayling Reedbed, vegetation clearance in the exclosures to encourage the growth of orchids and adders tongue fern, clearance of the bank of Southoe Brook near the yard and further
habitat improvement in the Sanctuary. We now hope that the nightingales will return in the Spring to occupy the desirable new residences we have prepared for them.

Are you interested in volunteering with one our Work Parties? Find out more here.

Paxton Pits Visitors – big and small!

Martin Runchman reflects on a recent visit to Paxton Pits.

After several days of heavy rain and overcast skies in June it was good to be able to make a visit to PPPNR, with the thought of an update on our summer visitors, the Terns, in my mind.

Having parked the car almost immediately I came across a whole other set of visitors, all hard at work.

A Cooperative Retail Management team were busy in the VC garden. A new flower bed was being built and a fresh coat of paint on the outside walls. Mark Bellamy the regional manager told me that 16 managers from around the local area including Little Paxton were working with the reserve head ranger, Matt Hall, on various jobs.

I quickly moved on as a hammer and nails appeared to be heading in my direction

With these visitors hard at work, and with gratitude for their hard work on my mind, I then encountered an even more joyful sight. Our Wildlife Trust colleagues had some dozen and more 4-5 year olds all with high vis jackets enjoying a nature play scheme. This sight just made me smile. A really great event and introducing children to the wonders of nature.

A few moments later a group of some 10 walkers were just beginning their walk which would take them right round the reserve.

So there we have it – an inspirational set of activities, and all taking place at our Reserve.

I did promise a Tern Raft update – and great news as some 30 plus Terns have been seen “sitting”, hopefully brooding eggs or young, and yes – several young chicks have also been seen. Fingers crossed for a bumper year. And thanks to all the Kingfisher Lottery Players for your support which makes our installation and maintenance of the tern rafts possible.

What a great looking …..whatchamacallit

The working party at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve has now finished their latest building project.

A walk from the Visitor Centre along the Heron Trail will shortly bring the ‘Bus Stop’ into view. The Bus Stop is not the usual looking hide nor is it a fully covered shelter, but offers great, wide views of Heronry South Lake from its elevated position.

With its ramp and seating arrangement, it is also easily accessible. Why not pay it a visit soon? And don’t forget to pop by the Visitor Centre afterwards for refreshments, too.

Birdwatching bonanza!

Lower than normal water levels

Lower than normal water levels on both Heronry North and South during September and October has led to local birdwatchers being able to enjoy some of Paxton’s best birdwatching for the last 50 years!

The most dramatic increase has been in the numbers and range of water loving wading birds and egrets – this climaxed on Sunday 21st October when we counted no fewer than 28 little egrets on both Heronry North and South. Even more amazing was the numbers of previously rare great white egrets. In recent weeks they have built up to at least six of these beautiful birds – a real treat for local visitors to our reserve.

Where have all these egrets come from? It’s an often asked question. Well, little egrets have actually been here for twenty years, but have never bred. Maybe next year?

And as for the great white egrets – they are now breeding in at least four different UK locations, but not as far as we know in Cambridgeshire. What will happen next spring? Watch this space!

And it’s not just egrets. You can expect to see green sandpipers, common sandpipers, snipe and lapwings on the same pits, along with over ten species of wildfowl. And don’t forget we have a very interesting stock dove roost building up at this time of year, too.

So much to enjoy. Come and visit this wonderful nature reserve for yourself to catch a sight. There are great hides and nature walks for all the family.

– Trevor Gunton