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Author Topic: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald  (Read 59701 times)

ian mcdonald

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #720 on: December 04, 2019, 10:11:01 PM »
Thanks for your input David. I don,t use flash either as I prefer natural light, even in poor light conditions. I have in the past used flash and found the results poor. I should be on the site again tomorrow and will look for fruiting Cladonia to see if the results are the same.

David Lyttle

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #721 on: December 05, 2019, 07:58:40 AM »
Thanks for your input David. I don,t use flash either as I prefer natural light, even in poor light conditions. I have in the past used flash and found the results poor. I should be on the site again tomorrow and will look for fruiting Cladonia to see if the results are the same.

Sorry I misread the metadata details that are embedded in your image; it says your flash was off and did not fire but your white balance setting was for flash which would explain why the colours were not rendered correctly.

So much for my original theory.
David Lyttle
Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, South Island ,
New Zealand.

ian mcdonald

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #722 on: December 05, 2019, 08:16:17 PM »
Thanks David. I don,t know how to look at the details in the image unless it,s on the camera. I will have to look at the camera manual to see how to alter the white balance.
Today was dull with a cold wind after six days of sun and frost. I was late on site and my usual companion had met the site manager and gone to the south of the site. I met up with them about mid-day. We walked through the flooded main track, the water was about eight inches deep in some places. Birds were keeping out of the exposed areas most of the time. We saw a female marsh harrier hunting over the reed beds. A group of birds were flitting about in the tops of birch trees and I thought they were redpolls. We stopped in the shelter of some reeds for a hot drink and heard a buzzard calling. Fieldfare and redwing were eating hawthorn berries along the main track. We also noticed several small fish swimming along the track, in deep water. Both the old and "new" pumps were working but we have had so much rain in the last three months that little effect is noticeable in the water levels so far. A party of long tailed tits were seen in the bushes along the track. These groups of tits are worth taking the time to look at as other small birds join them in winter. We made our way to our usual advantage point where we can scan a large area for birds. Soon after arriving two cormorants flew past. Three roe deer were seen grazing not far away. As it was getting dusk a short eared owl appeared near by.



Polytrichum commune?



A winter scene on one of the tracks.







The flooded main track.

The site is dismal looking in winter with dull skies and the vegetation has lost its summer green-ness. We have to be well wrapped up with several layers of warm clothing, coats, hats, scarves and gloves but it is still much better than sitting at home looking at the walls. You never know what you are going to see and maybe come across un-common wildlife.

Birds today were, reed bunting, blackbird, marsh harrier, crow, mallard, redpoll, buzzard, starling, fieldfare, redwing, long tailed tit, blue tit, wren, cormorant, short eared owl and snipe.

ian mcdonald

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #723 on: December 12, 2019, 12:56:50 PM »
Yesterday was a bright clear start but by early afternoon the wind got up and turned the sky grey. Summer seems a long time ago now but in a couple of weeks we will be having more daylight. I entered the site at the eastern end. The idea was to get a view of the starlings we had seen from our vantage point in the West, coming in to roost. The largest reed bed is in the North-Eastern part of the site. First of all I walked to a large flooded area to look for ducks on the water. I was rewarded with several species. The largest number were mallards. They were swimming with a good number of wigeon. Wigeon make a high pitched whistling sound. The males have a dark brown head with a golden stripe. There were a few teal and five goosanders. Also there were several tufted duck. I also noticed a couple of duck which I did not recognise at first. They were quite large, with upward pointed tails. I realised that they were pintail. They are not recorded on the site very often. The "new pump" was running and moving a lot of water but the woods are still flooded and in-accessible. This is good for the site as a whole as we don,t know what the coming summer will be like. We need plenty of water on site in case next summer is a long hot one and evaporation becomes a problem. I saw several goldfinch, feeding on teasel heads. Along a track were two cettis warblers, whose song is short and loud, usually starting with two clear notes and ending with a trill. A flock of about two hundred lapwings flew past as I was walking along a track. A goldcrest was looking for insects among a group of blue tits, in willow bushes. Magpies were making a noise at the top of a tall bush then a fox appeared out of the vegetation a little way in front of me. At first it was busy looking for something then it noticed me and ran off. It was a big animal, probably a dog fox. Blackbirds, fieldfare and redwing are still feeding on hawthorn berries, which are not that common on the site. A grey squirrel ran across the track and dis-appeared up a large willow tree. They are not seen all that often on the site, keeping to the periphery where trees are more common. A yellowhammer was in a large hawthorn, again, these are not seen very often. A male and a female marsh harrier were hunting over the reeds in the hope of flushing something. As it was getting dusk I made my way to the large reed bed and stood among some birch bushes in the hope of seeing a starling "murmuration." I had only been there a few minutes when a group of starlings appeared from the west. They are not seen very often during the day. They started wheeling above the reeds and were soon joined by other groups. When a male marsh harrier approached they bunched together in a rapidly moving display. There were not the huge numbers seen on TV in other parts of the country but I estimated that there were around 1500 birds and probably more to arrive. The noise they made as they landed in the reeds was quite something and this continued after they had landed.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2019, 01:01:37 PM by ian mcdonald »

ian mcdonald

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #724 on: December 12, 2019, 02:28:00 PM »


Flooded woodland.





The fox on the track.




ian mcdonald

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #725 on: December 12, 2019, 02:33:26 PM »


The large reed bed.



The first group of starlings arrive.



More starlings.



The starlings bunch up at the arrival of a harrier.


ian mcdonald

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #726 on: December 12, 2019, 02:42:15 PM »


The starlings start to drop into the reeds.



They did not loiter once they had decided to settle.

Birds seen were, blue tit, goldfinch, crow, cettis warbler, blackbird, mallard, wigeon, lapwing, robin, long tailed tit, teal, tufted duck, goosander, goldcrest, pheasant, magpie, marsh harrier, kestrel, grey lag goose, chaffinch, moorhen, pink footed geese, great tit, pigeon, starling, wren, fieldfare, redwing, yellowhammer and pintail.

Robert

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #727 on: December 15, 2019, 06:08:36 AM »
Hello Ian,

I enjoy following your thread.

I notice many straight tracks on “your patch”. I presume they are a remnant from past land use practices?

By any chance is there any discussion of how this ecosystem may have looked and/or functioned 6,000 years ago? I am presuming that humans have had their imprint on this site for a very, very, long time. As you have stated, the restoration plan is to turn the site into a well functioning wetland ecosystem, but I was wondering if there are ideas how the site may have functioned sometime after the end of the last ice advance.

Here restoration projects appear to be based on something that might have existed 200 years ago. Now, with atmospheric CO2 levels above 400 ppm and rising at 2% per year, I question the wisdom of attempting to restore a specific type of ecosystem to a site that may not be able to support it now. During the California Gold Rush, the activities of the 49ers so altered large portion of the state that previously existing ecosystems no longer resemble or function as they did before the Gold Rush. Now we have similar alterations taking place, but for different reasons. Other perspectives concerning the risks of this new forest management are not heard by the general public. I have been watching what is going on for a number of years now. I can see that the efforts are energy intensive, only effective for a few years and create a feed back loop that reestablishes and reinforces the previously existing unhealthy conditions. Our forests are being turned into a monoculture farm fields. The loss of biodiversity and the fragmentation of plant communities is mind-boggling. I wish this report was encouraging, however I feel the need to state things as I see them.

It is certainly encouraging to hear about the successes taking place on the patch.  :)   8)
« Last Edit: December 15, 2019, 06:11:22 AM by Robert »
Robert Barnard
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ian mcdonald

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #728 on: December 15, 2019, 05:15:10 PM »
Hello Robert, I,m in no way sufficiently learned to comment on the geology of the area. I am interested in the site and its formation since the last ice age but it is just a passing interest. I have looked at work published by Geoff. Gaunt, a geologist who has spent many years on fieldwork and research into the local geology. In short, the landscape of the area of the site is flat and mainly agricultural. Solid geology is buried. Sometime after the last glaciation alluvium  was deposited. Rivers meandered across the area. Clay was also deposited making the land swampy and difficult to work for subsequent agriculture. Vegetation colonised the area and in wetter places a thin peaty layer was formed. In some areas the peat became extensive, forming raised bogs. In 1878 peat was recorded as 6.1m in thickness. More recent investigation proved the peat to be no more than 3.0m. This reflects the amount of peat extraction. Peat removal in later years has reduced the peat even further, to more or less nothing in some parts of the site. This is due to using peat for horticulture. As far as I know, the site functioned as it had for centuries up until the late industrial age when peat removal became mechanised. The early records of visiting naturalists in the 1800s suggest that a thriving wildlife community was still on the site. Some of the tracks were used to remove peat from the site and are becoming flooded due to the recent water level management of the site.

Hoy

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #729 on: December 16, 2019, 08:48:10 AM »
Hello Ian,

when you say peat, is it sphagnum peat? You showed a photograph where they had just planted plugs of sphagnum moss. Is it no live sphagnum left?

Sphagnum capillifolium

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« Last Edit: December 16, 2019, 08:59:26 AM by Hoy »
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ian mcdonald

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #730 on: December 16, 2019, 11:18:52 AM »
Hello Trond, it is mostly Sphagnum peat but there may be Fen peat as well. There is much live Sphagnum on the site. The areas where Sphagnum plugs have been planted was taken over by Rhododendron ponticum. These areas were cleared of Rhododendron a few years ago by machines. The shading caused by the dense Rhododendron excluded most other plants so there has been restoration of Sphagnum to "kick start" Sphagnum growth here. I have some pictures of the cleared site and will post them when I find them.

ian mcdonald

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #731 on: December 16, 2019, 12:22:12 PM »


This is the area in which the Sphagnum plugs have been planted, during scrub clearance.



The area after scrub clearance.



A general view of the area after scrub clearance.

The site is so large and the habitats so diverse that a single policy of restoration for the whole site would not take into account the huge variety of wildlife species that depend on the site. The removal of Rhododendron and birch was undertaken by machine due to the amount of work needed and the constraints of time. This has meant that large areas are now covered in small pieces of branches. These will rot down in time. The area shown in the photos. is but a small part of the whole site.


Hoy

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #732 on: December 16, 2019, 05:34:58 PM »
Ian, I have read about removing Rhododendrons in UK. Interesting to see what happens next. Will not rhododendron and other seeds in the soil germinate when they get light?

I don't think we have any similar projects going on here in Norway, not in that scale anyway. Protected areas are left to restore themselves. Often people are allowed to do what they did previously: walking, hunting and letting livestock feed there. And we have more bogs than fens I think.

Is this what you would call a fen?

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ian mcdonald

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #733 on: December 17, 2019, 12:06:06 PM »
Hello Trond, I think there is a chance that Rhododendron may germinate over the cleared areas, as you suggest. We will have to see what happens. Where Rhododendron "stumps" have been left they re-grow and have to be sprayed with herbicide, sometimes several times. I,m not trained in Botany or Horticulture but my impression from your photo. is that it shows a pool in a bog? If the soil is peat then that is how I would describe it. It looks as though bog myrtle fringes the pool. I,m not altogether convinced by the method of giving habitats a classification by number as there are so many variables in nature but I suppose it gives an idea of what a habitat consists of. Your "pool" reminds me of Rannoch Moor, in Scotland, where white water lily, bogbean and bog myrtle grow together in pools. To me, a Fen is a wet habitat with reeds (phragmites), and possibly more alkaline than a bog. I have looked for descriptions of Bog and Fen in "The British Isles and their Vegetation by A. G. Tansley 1953." It seems that there is some chance that the habitat types are open to discussion. The local site has many habitat types, due to human interference, but was a raised bog, as opposed to a blanket bog. I think we have destroyed about 98% of raised bogs in the UK, (much of the destruction was to provide bags of peat for growing plants in which do not normally grow in peat).  The work carried out at the local site was to remove Rhododendron and much of the birch then raise water levels to drown any re-growth of these species. The birch are native but an excess causes water loss through transpiration. It is not proposed to remove all the birch and there are two wet woodlands on the site which contain large willows, S. fragilis and S. alba.
If the local site was left to recover by itself it would turn into a different habitat, probably a rough woodland with pools in the wetter areas. We would loose the largest Raised Bog in the country and with it the rich wildlife that depend on it. No-one knows how many species live there as new records are being discovered every year, due to the efforts of mainly local naturalists.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2019, 12:20:50 PM by ian mcdonald »

Hoy

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Re: my local patch and wildlife - Ian McDonald
« Reply #734 on: December 18, 2019, 02:25:56 PM »

....... I,m not trained in Botany or Horticulture but my impression from your photo. is that it shows a pool in a bog? If the soil is peat then that is how I would describe it. It looks as though bog myrtle fringes the pool. ...

Ian,  thank you for the explanation. I think my picture isn't the best one to show the site. The pool is just a little part of it ( a little slow creek actually). Most of the vegetation is not moss but grasses, sedges and similar plants. It is also orchids, grass of parnassus there and other interesting plants. Regardless of what it is called it is very different from the more common sphagnum moss bogs around here.

Marsh pennywort is one of the plants found here.

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