Duck sitting on eggs in a Clevedon Wildfowling Association made nesting tube.
Now the season has come to an end here is a brief summary gained from some of our members.
Firstly the weather, up to December it was fairly mild with average rainfall and hardly any frost. During December and January it became colder but the temperature mainly stayed above freezing and any sub zero periods were brief just overnight frosts. Rainfall during the season again was unexceptional although some heavy rain fell in the month of December during which the moors flooded up. Sunshine in December was slightly above average but below during January, which may account for some saying the moors were wetter than usual this winter.
Generally the season has been unremarkable although wigeon numbers may be down on previous years. Certainly inland all reports say when wigeon have been seen on the moor they are not in flocks but just in pairs or very low numbers dropping in on the splashes after dark. On the foreshore however, the reports are more mixed some say wigeon numbers are good whilst others are reporting poor numbers.
Teal and Mallard numbers seem to be the same as usual. Some say Mallard are down especially later in the season.
Snipe have been around in good numbers probably due to the wet moors and lack of hard frosts, in fact many wader species seem to be doing well especially on the foreshore.
Canada geese continue to become a more common quarry species and numbers seem to be leveling out.
All the above is anecdotal and based on reports and comments from club members.
As was mentioned in a previous post The CWA will be giving a talk at the BASC Wildfowling Conference. The presentation will center the clubs conservation work past present and future working with the BTO, NE and other groups and organisations. I hope to publish a full transcript either on the blog or through a link after the conference, which is on March 3rd.
Finally our AGM is in March and following that there should be some dates for events such as clay meets etc.
This years Presidents Shoot saw a fair turnout, with all the standing water about hopes were not high but a reasonable bag was achieved. See below for details on the bag and winner. Once again thanks to the Drum and Monkey.
Derek this years winner receiving the plaque from the President for the heaviest Wigeon
1 Shoveler – 1lb 9oz . 4 Wigeon, heaviest – 1lb 11oz. 6 Mallard, heaviest – 2lb 12oz. 2 Teal, heaviest – 13oz. And 2 Canada Geese that were too heavy for the scales.
Canada Geese In flight
The CWA have made a response to Natural England on the Wildfowling Guidance Review and encourage all wildfowlers to respond as well.
Briefly the document is asking for your views on the changes Natural England wants to make on how they process wildfowling consents.
Here is a link to take you to the consultation and response documents https://consult.defra.gov.uk/natural-england/wildfowling-guidance-review
or contact BASC.
It’s now over three weeks since the start of the season and although wildfowlers can be as secretive as their quarry I have had some reports.
Those members who have ventured onto the foreshore say there are a few duck about but that they are probably staying in the ponds and ditches with this mild weather, which means flighting is unreliable. However wigeon have been seen on the foreshore and the weather will surely get colder and rougher as we head towards winter.
Inland is much the same story, there is still plenty of natural food in the ditches and ponds for the the duck and while the weather is quiet they will be roosting on the ponds. So not much moving, a usual start to the season around Clevedon.
Other news. We have been asked and agreed to doing a talk and presentation at the 2018 BASC Wildfowling Conference. The conference is usually held in March near Birmingham. The subject of the talk and more details will be posted later as they become available.
The accompanying picture shows one of the recently cleaned out ditches [at our land on Nailsea moor] where we are intending to put a sluice, up to two more ditches will have similar sluices. The ‘North Somerset Levels Internal Drainage Board’ and the ‘Environment Agency’ control the water levels on the North Somerset Moors. They do this by using a intricate system of interconnecting drainage rhynes, ditches, sluices and floodgates. They reduce the water level in the winter and raise it again in the summer months these are called the ‘Winter Pen’ and the ‘Summer Pen’. By putting sluices at the appropriate places in our ditches we can ensure there will always be water in them, this will be of benefit to ditch life and should keep the field wetter. This work will be most likely be done in December.
Work commenced on digging out the slash Tuesday and should be finished in a couple of days.
The digger taking the top off with the lake in the background.
This picture shows the field containing the lake and the splash. [Sorry about the quality it was taken off a video]. The field in the area ringed in red is the whole site of 13.8 acres with the lake being about 10 acres, in this picture the water level is high. The splash area is on the left of the site and shaded blue and will be about 0.75 acres.
The funding for the project comes from Natural England. Some of the area will be sown with the appropriate seed mix, other areas may be left to self seed. Invasive plants like thistles and hard rush will be controlled by mowing or grazing.
We look forward to seeing it mature and will be posting on its development.
We had one of our foreshore cleanups the other day, two dumpers of rubbish mainly plastic bottles and the usual flotsam and jetsam including a chest freezer.
We have been having work parties over the past few weeks on our ponds, clearing brambles and pulling out reeds. These jobs need to be done to keep the ponds in good shape to benefit as wide a range of wildlife as possible.
Once the breeding and nesting season is over we can safely do the work causing the minimum disturbance. Brambles and reeds are the most invasive plants and are controlled by cutting down the brambles and pulling up the reeds. Some reedbed is maintained mainly on the edges of the ponds or marshy land adjacent.
Also some tree management will be done and hides refurbished.
All the ponds are looking good this year and thanks to all the rain the water levels have stayed well up this summer.
Further news, the CWA have been releasing English Partridges in the Kingston Seymour area and two broods have been reported this year. Partridge are a natural species and until about forty years ago where common but agricultural practices caused their numbers to decline that they more or less disappeared as a breeding bird around here. However farming nowadays in our area has changed and we hope that these birds could reestablish themselves.
The scurry was held last Sunday consisting of 4 retrieves.
First retrieve, a hundred yard marked retrieve followed by a blind from the same position.
Second retrieve, a blind retrieve from 50 yards.
Third retrieve, marked 100 yards over a ditch and a marsh.
Fourth retrieve, marked retrieve over a small tidal river at low tide.
All retrieves were timed and the winner was Bruce with Fidget, runner up was Stuart with Tarka and third was Ian with Drake.
Bruce on the right receiving the trophy.
“It’s somewhere up there boy!”
“Found it Boss!”
A good day was had by all!
A series of simple retrieves designed for dogs of all levels.
This is a fun event for all the family.
No dog? Then just come and watch.
For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We now have funding for two projects, each on separate sites that we own.
One is the installation of four sluices on the ends of ditches on the site. The sluices will enable us to better control the water levels in ditches and the flooding in the fields as well as keeping the ground wetter.
The other is to create a scrape/splash this will be at the land which we recently purchased. An area of about 3000 square metres adjacent to a 10 acre pond will be reduced down so it remains wet and/or flooded depending on the time of year.
Both projects will benefit all wildlife but in particular waders, providing a feeding habitat as well as a high tide roost and hopefully a breeding place in the future.
These projects have to be completed by March 2018 so we will be posting progress as it happens.