Long-tailed tits enjoying a New Year feast


Photo credit: Martin Rogers

We've had a couple of great sightings of these excitable little long-tailed tits sent in recently to brighten up the start of this new year!

Although they never used to be a regular bird table visitor, they've been making more of an appearance in recent years. If you're yet to spot one from your window though, then they can usually be found flitting through patches of hedgerow or on a visit to your nearest woodland.

As you can see here in volunteer Bob's video of a small group from last week, they love to noisily show off their impressive acrobatic skills and distinctive contact calls whilst enjoying a lunch of seeds, berries and insects on a birch tree:

Video credit: Bob Hook

Small in size, they roost together during these colder winter months to try and reduce heat loss, and can often be found packed in multiples into a nestbox or roosting pouch. As we head deeper into winter - towards the very end of February/beginning of March - the long-tailed tits will begin construction of their nests ready for breeding season, so keep your eyes peeled to high up in the fork of a tree or lower down in a thorny shrub to see if you can spot them on your winter walks.

A few jobs well done at Millennium Country Park

One of the rangers last jobs of out 2020 was to finish reed cutting an area at Millennium Country Park as part of the reedbed management plan for the site. The next step will be to fell trees which have grown in the reedbed - mostly willow but some hawthorn too - as tree growth must be kept to a minimum so as not to reduce the water levels and stop the reedbed to silting up.

Then on New Year's Eve our Rangers Nicola and Jane, and Head Ranger Anna, went armed with a hedge trimmer, brushcutters and a chainsaw to clear the verge on the side of this pathway:

Picture of a pathway before pruning Picture of a pathway after pruning

The long strip of grassland had become dominated by bramble and hawthorn, which over time had begun to encroach on the pathway. The bramble was knocked back to create better access and give visitors appropriate space for social distancing, and whilst there they were also able to high prune some of the trees that border the path. As well as creating a clear pathway for visitors the high pruning will open up the woodland edge, allowing in more light and creating an area of dappled shade perfect for wildlife - like the speckled wood butterfly - and ground flora.

Then this week the team have begun clearing some of the viewpoints around Stewartby Lake. These are mainly views which can be enjoyed from the benches dotted around the lake - take a look at the before and after pictures of one of the viewpoints below:


The before picture was taken in the summer of 2019 and the after from January 2021.  We will continue clearing more of the viewpoints as time and weather allow. Unfortunately some of the clearance needed is on steep slopes, which in wet weather can be treacherous. We are hoping that we will get a dry period before bird nesting season begins in March but, if not, we will continue with the work in September 2021.

All in all, a great couple of days work!

A winged winter walk...


This series of photos was taken by FOMV volunteer Martin Rogers, who spotted the buzzard, kites and this heron whilst out on a walk last month. Great photos, Martin!

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