A number of our members were out at the weekend providing maintenance to the duck nesting tubes on club land.
Last month we had a tour of the Hamwall reserve led by Giles one of the RSPB ornithologists. First we had a quick talk of the history of the reserve and its achievements followed by the tour.
Originally peat diggings the pits that were left have flooded, managed by the RSPB this has created large open areas of water with reed beds islands and paths between the ponds. We saw Pochard, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Tufted and Gadwall, Canada geese and a couple of Greylag. Mute swans Coot and Snipe amongst others.
They are particularly proud of the Heron species there not only do they have Grey Heron but Little Egret and Greater Egret, which breed on site.There are also breeding Bittern here, we caught glimpses of a two.
Over the road is Shapwick Heath reserve a much older reserve managed by Natural England, this was where we saw most of the Wigeon. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and would recommend a visit if you like waterfowl or just a pleasant walk on the avalon marshes.
Murmurations, this is one of the best places in the UK to see Starling murmurations check their website for details [google Hamwall rspb reserve somerset] because it can get busy. Plenty of parking at £3 all day. There are toilets and an information centre where you can get a coffee. Staff are at the centre and in the car park at all times.
We also saw five Marsh Harriers two pairs flying over one of the ponds at Hamwall reserve and one in a tree at Shapwick Heath.
The annual Presidents Shoot was held last week total bag was 6 mallard 1 teal 1 wood pigeon and one grey squirrel. The winner was Pete with a 2lb 15.5oz mallard, second Darren 1lb 1.9oz teal, third Derek with a 2lb 13.4oz mallard.
The low bag count was due to several reasons we had a low turnout of members compared to previous years, and the weather and tide was against us. This would probably explain why no wigeon were shot despite there being plenty of water lying on the moors. However a good time was had by all on the shoot and back at the weigh in later.
The picture above is the solar panel for the pump with our 10 acre pond called Puggs Pit in the background. Once the trench is dug the pipe laid to the ditch and the splash, which is in front of the panel is flooded, the pump should be able to keep it topped up.
Reports from members of the start of the season all say that there were plenty of duck about. Earlier in September over 500 Mallard were seen coming off Puggs pit in the evenings. These would most likely be wild birds as we have not released any this year.
Apart from mallard, wigeon teal and pintail have all been taken mainly on the foreshore and surrounding areas.
At the beginning of last month there were quite a lot of Canada geese on the ponds and ground around the foreshore but they seem to have pushed off for now, probably to return when the maize is cut. If it’s not ploughed back in too soon!
Crow control continues including trapping and shooting.
This years gundog scurry was held on Saturday and as usual it was hotly contested. The course consisted of a series of retrieves including over grass, cover, water mud and in water seen, blind and double. It was a difficult course but one a reasonably competent dog should be capable of. All retrieves were timed and the the winner was the fastest overall.
!st Luke with Eva.
2nd Luke again with Jess
3rd Ian with BB
Prizes Bottle wine 1st, Box cartridges 2nd, Dog lead 3rd.
This years CWA foreshore cleanup took place last week, we picked up two dumpers full of the usual flotsam and jetsam mostly plastic. [picture above]
Three weeks to the start of the season. It has appeared to have been a good year for mallard with ducklings being seen right up to a couple of weeks ago. The dry weather helped and the nesting tubes were well used. If you want to know how to build a wild mallard nesting tube look up ‘Building a mallard hen house’ on utube. Also check out http://www.westmorlandwildfowlersassociation.co.uk click on conservation and then WWA wildfowl nest project.
There are quite a lot of canada geese around at the moment skeins of over forty have been seen also a pair of gadwall were seen locally last week.
We have been helping out with vermin control, mainly crows and also have a couple of crow traps out. This is a service the association provides to landowners whose land we have the sporting rights on.
On the conservation side we have had work parties on two of our oldest ponds carrying out maintenance although this is an ongoing thing and more reed clearance will be done in the next few weeks. One of our members has designed and built a solar pump, this will be used to maintain splashes and certain flooded areas keeping the water levels up and marshy areas wet, benefiting all wildfowl and waders by providing high tide roosts. More reports on the pump will be posted once its up and running.
Finally the CWA have an article in this weeks Countrymans Weekly and will be contributing further pieces.
Upcoming Events – Clay Shoot 19th Aug. Members Gundog Scurry 25th Aug.
This week BASC Southwest hosted the BASC council meeting with a members evening on Wednesday. The Clevedon Wildfowling Association were very pleased to be asked to co-host the event. In the afternoon council members were taken by the CWA on a visit to some of our conservation projects including our award winning pond at Nailsea moor. During the visit they were given a talk about our habitat and shoot improvement schemes and ideas.
Later we repeated the visit for the BASC members who had arrived for the members evening.
The members evening was a great success an excellent game buffet was put on by the BASC southwest team and we all had a chance to meet Ian Bell BASC chief executive as well as council members. Many thanks to David Gervers and the southwest team. Between us all and including the beautiful weather it was a very successful and enjoyable day.
The middle ditch on our land at Nailsea moor has now been dammed, with a sluice gate at one end. This will allow us to control the water flow so we can maintain a higher water level [or lower] independent of the main drainage system.
Hopefully we have now said goodbye to the Beast from the East and on to better weather.
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.