The day’s work was straightforward and easy. We found only a small amount of gorse and birch in the heather; indicating we are on top of the job of keeping the heather beds clear. It didn’t take long to removed what was there. We then moved on to the woodland to clear sycamore saplings, which were abundant and unless reduced could become dominant.
As it is the bird nesting season, we also checked the nest boxes for activity. We did not see as much activity as during last year’s survey. This may be because the season started late this year and the birds were sitting in the nests, incubating their eggs, rather than feeding their young. Altogether we observed seven boxes with Blue Tits flying in and out.
Supplement 22nd May: the theory seemed to be proved by a check two weeks later when I found more activity. I observed Blue Tits using fifteen boxed and Great Tits using three boxes.
The weather was sunny and warm and we were fascinated to see, swarming over the heather, lots of big black flies with dangling hind legs. These were St Mark’s Flies, so called because they emerge around St Mark’s Day on 25th April. They are useful insects: their larvae eat rotting vegetation in the soil and the adults feed on nectar, acting as pollinators. As always, The Heath provides a window into the natural world.
Thank you to our fantastic volunteers for your time and to Cheshire Wildlife Trust for running the day.