One week in…
…and still raining (albeit with a few welcome sunny spells). Firstly, let me introduce myself. I’m Darren and I’m usually found lurking at the RSPB headquarters in Sandy, Bedfordshire, although for the next month you will find me volunteering with the Landguard Partnership.
This is an area I know well from family holidays of old to now being a regular visitorthroughout the year - so the opportunity of spending a good chunk of time exploring the peninsula further was an opportunity to be seized.
Over the course of the next few weeks I’m set on improving my knowledge of shingle habitat, migrating birds and generally learning more about the work of the Felixstowe Museum, Landguard Fort and Bird Observatory. In return, I hope to impart some of my knowledge and experience from the day job and tick off a few of the jobs on the Partnership’s ‘to do’ list around the site.
Added to this will be a spot of regular twittering, so if you aren’t already following us make sure you get ‘#landguardranger’ on your 'following' list pronto. At the start of the week we had 234 followers, which has now grown to 249 - I wonder if I can break the 300 mark before I leave?
It seems to have been a week of W's, with wet and wind featuring highly, but more excitingly so was a visiting Wryneck, the ringing of Wheatear, Whitethroats and various Warbler. The migration northwards now seems well underway, despite the rainy drought of April, so lets hope the insect population is now on the wing to feed these hungry arrivals. The general trend of those caught and rung by Gavin, the onsite bird ringer, is the visitors are lacking much in the way of body fat reserves, which you would expect after the miles many of them have covered.
This first week has seen me getting the know the reserve better and start the journey of improving my flora and fauna knowledge - too early for Stinking Goosefoot though. Had an interesting few hours with the Landguard Bird Observatory walking the mist nets and observing the observed through their leg ringing. During the more showery periods the indoors was calling with a visit to the Felixstowe Museum and Landguard Fort to whet the appetite. Looking forward to future time spent learning the history of one of England's best-preserved coastal defences and hopefully participating in cataloguing some of the many artifacts and donations to the Museum.
The wander back to my lodgings usually encompasses a stretch along the beach, which is a mighty fine way to end the day. One eye is also on any unusual stones, possibly a small piece of polished amber glinting in the sun or interesting fragment of drift wood. This week also saw not one, but two, messages in a bottle. The first was rather cryptic with just a piece of yellow laminated paper inside reading D.P.STRANDV.28. A quick Google didn’t turn up much but the clues point towards either Sweden or a Swedish ship coming in to the Felixstowe Docks. The second was a rather sweet message from Georgia and Iga, residents of Felixstowe, declaring their friendship to the world since they were 4 years old and how they would be friends forever. The bottle was sent on its merry way Sunday 6 May and I picked it up 4 days later - I suspect they might have sent it off on an incoming tide. Sadly, no address on the note to send them a card to say it had been found.
The monthly Saturday beach litter pick, organised by the Bird Observatory, saw 12 volunteers giving 90-minutes of their time to keep this important shingle habitat pristine. Check out the events listing on the Landguard website for details of the June event. The big burning orb in the sky (also know as a sun - you might have seen it before many moons ago) put in a welcome appearance.
Have to say the ongoing effort by all the partners and visitors to Languard is certainly keeping the upper hand in the battle against the litter that blows,floats or walks on to the reserve. A few bags later, predominantly made up of bits of plastic and disposable cups, it was back for tea and homemade cake in the home of the Bird Observatory, Landguard Fort’s Right Battery. Unfortunately no treasure of the gold bullion variety washed up on this pick, but there were some rather wonderful specimens of Common Starfish, a Common Sun-Star and an egg case of a White Skate.
So with the first week drawn to a close, I wonder if the next will see me adorning the wet weather gear or shorts and t-shirt. If it is anything like the first it will probably all the above.
If you haven’t been to Landguard before or it has been a while since your last visit, why not pop along to see it at this special time of year. Opening times of all the attractions are on the website, or simply come down for a wander.
PS. Oh and from the ‘To Do’ list, a couple of bits have been ticked off. Those flapping fence panels at the old Harbourmaster cottage, now home to the Landguard Partnership, flap no more.