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News - 2016 archive

May 2016 - Dawn Chorus and Light Breakfast at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve
Sunday 15th May 2016 at 5:30 am
Enjoy the massed choirs of birds with the Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve. There's no better place, time of year or time of day to do this.
This is a popular annual event and, if you come along, you will see why. We have no idea what birds will turn up but we can guarantee nightingales and lots of warblers as long as it is not raining heavily or blowing a gale. The reason that we have so many birds is that the Reserve is made up of lots of different habitats including woodland, grassland, fields, scrub, reedbeds and lakes. It can get very noisy!
You don’t have to be an expert in identifying birds from their songs because our volunteer leaders are there to help you. If you have binoculars bring them along and wear layers of clothes as it can be cold at the start of the day and hot by breakfast time.
There is no need to book for the walk but, if you want breakfast, please buy tickets in advance from the Visitor Centre.
The Guided Walk alone costs £2.50; the Walk and Breakfast together cost £5.00
 April 2016 - Nightingales Return
Our first nightingale was heard on 5th April.
We have a new leaflet all about nightingales - Download the Nightingale Leaflet

March 2016 - Vintage Tractors at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve
On Sunday 20 March, local vintage tractor owners set to work on the arable fields at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve. It was a fantastic sight and lots of people came on both days to watch and photograph the tractors preparing the ground and sowing the next crops.
Judith Arnold, Countryside Co-ordinator, said: “This event has been successful for another year and it really is a special sight to see the vintage tractors at work. Farming methods have changed over the years and the Paxton Pits Nature Reserve clearly benefits from using traditional practices such as this.”
Senior Ranger, Jim Stevenson, said: “There has been a real buzz at Paxton Pits this weekend.  We had Sport Relief and the vintage tractors on the same day which attracted lots of local people to the reserve.  We enjoy working with the local Vintage Tractor Club and it’s great that the spring cereal crop has now been sown on our arable fields.”

January 2016 - Nest Boxes
We have well over 100 nest boxes out there on the Reserve. This month, volunteers Janet and Steve Prior set out to check our nest boxes for the first time. They wrote this for our absentee volunteer David Cobham, who normally looks after these things with David Butterworth, but he is stuck in hospital following a stroke.
"We met with David Butterworth at the Visitors' Centre and armed with ladder, tools and clipboard, we headed off to survey the bird boxes on the meadow trail. That’s with the exception of Jim’s experimental social housing high-rise blocks near the Visitors' Centre as they are rather inaccessible (to us newbies anyway!)
The meadow itself is very wet and there is a lot of laying water. The gravel path and drainage is doing a great job. A couple of boxes near Hayling Lake had blown down in the recent high winds, but the boxes were still in good shape and we put them back in situ.
By lunchtime we had made 3 evictions. A mouse from one box, a big slug from another and eleven slugs from one bird box located by the fishing lake! Overall, we were surprised and delighted to find that the occupancy rate was over 90%. According to David, most of the nests belonged to Blue Tits.
After lunch we headed towards Hayden Hide and then across the basin to the woods on the far side. David warned us that the ground here is very unstable due to massive rabbit warrens and it wasn’t too long before he sank knee deep into the ground. And then so did I! Luckily it was all in slow motion.
We also found an active badger sett in those woods. The entrances were large and worn smooth by their constant comings and goings and there was the tell-tale fresh bedding that had been dragged outside. Looking up into the trees to locate the bird boxes, it was evident that this was Woodpecker Heaven as virtually all the trees were honey-combed with holes. Maybe that’s why some of the bird boxes here were unused?
By the end of the day, we had recorded data on 50 bird boxes and still the occupancy rate was extremely high. The percentage was let down mostly by the fact that all of the Robin boxes that we found were un-used?"
(The boxes have to be cleaned out every year before the new nesting season in March. This year we are seeing birds at nest sites during the first week in January! We also have birds roosting in our bat boxes and I have seen barn owls courting already.)
  January 2016 - New Year's Day Tick and Twitch, Guided Walks and Talks