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Friday, November 22, 2013

Wed 20th Nov 2013 - The Old Railway Station, Merstone.

This week saw us at one of our regular sites, which have visited several times over the last few years - Merstone station.  Our main job was to grab our rakes, unpack the giant carry bags and spread out over the whole site raking off the grass which had recently been cut.  We then filled the carry bags (and boy are they heavy when full!) with the cut grass and tipped them all into a pile in the hedge.  This task allows everything to regenerate ready for the wildflowers in the spring, so hopefully there will be a spectacular show for next year.  Other GG folk were busy tidying up the edge of the platform, which was rather overgrown, and making sure the maze we re-did on our last visit was nice and visible.  Luckily for us the forecast persistent rain held off for most of the morning session.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

Near the end of the session at the edge of the car park, a hovering kestrel was spotted only about twenty feet off the ground (how it kept still in the strong wind I don't know) - although Mark made a dash for his camera he didn't quite make it, so I borrowed one from the RSPB.  Kestrels are the most common bird of prey in Europe, although their numbers have declined in Britain over the last few years. Their habit of hovering, particularly near motorways, means they are also one of the easiest to spot. Whilst hovering they have the extraordinary ability to keep their head totally still, even in strong winds. This allows them to pinpoint and catch small mammals by sight alone. If prey is abundant, kestrels sometimes kill more than they need and cache what they don’t eat.

Many thanks to Carrie for the editorial and nature lesson this week and to Mark for the photographs.

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