Although the weather has not been great this past week there is still plenty to see here at WWT Arundel. Staff and visitors have been heading out into the grounds just after 3pm each day to marvel at our growing flock of starlings. I mentioned in a previous post that we are delighted to see starlings return to roost in the reed bed for the first time in years. We started off with around 150 and numbers have now grown to about 2000. Pat, our Marketing Manager, captured this footage on Saturday of the spectacular murmuration gradually growing before suddenly dropping into the reed bed at dusk. The duration of this fantastic display varies with the weather, do pop in one afternoon and take a front row seat!
With huge flocks of starlings come birds of prey. Peregrines, Sparrowhawks and Kestrels will try to scatter the birds and pick off one for lunch. It’s a little gruesome but incredible to watch the agility and speed of these birds hunting so look out for them too.
While I was looking online for Pat’s starling video I came across another clip filmed last year, I think by Alex, our old Grounds Supervisor. It’s of the Bewick’s swans in front of the Ramsar hide before they take off to fly down the valley. I’m pretty sure it’s the same morning in February 2010, just after I joined WWT, when we came in at 7am to see 68 of these gorgeous birds which had been roosting over night. The noise they make is captivating and I am really hoping they will pop in to see us again soon as the weather becomes increasingly cooler. Paul tells me that there are eight in the valley at the moment and these numbers should increase if we get some strong easterly winds, I hope I don’t miss them when I go home for Christmas!
Despite the horrendous weather, a good number of people attended yesterday’s Supporters Club evening. We enjoyed Margaret’s yummy mince pies with a glass of wine and Jonathan Huet of ‘Walk with Trees’ gave a fascinating talk on the traditional stories and uses of trees. I hope that we may get to work with Jonathan again in the future as he really captivated the audience with his wonderful presentation style. He recounted stories and lore including this lovely piece about logs…
Oaken logs if dry and old,
Keep away the winter’s cold;
Poplar gives a bitter smoke
Fills your eyes and makes you choke;
Elm wood burns like graveyard mould
Even the very flames are cold;
Apple wood will scent the room
Pear wood smells as flowers in bloom;
But ash wood wet and ash wood dry
A King to warm his slippers by.
Beech wood fires burn bright and clear
If the logs be kept for a year;
Chestnut’s only good they say,
If for years, ’tis stored away.
Birch and firwoods burn too fast
Blaze too bright and do not last;
But ash wood green and ash wood brown
Are fit for a Queen with a golden crown!
Jonathan runs various workshops and bushcraft activities, have a look at his website and let me know if you would be interested in seeing more events of this nature at Arundel.
Right I must dash off to a meeting!
Have a great week.