21st February

What coverage there was revealed few changes today, with the Hume's Warbler at Thumb Lane still the bird of the moment. Four Redwings, 2 Purple Sandpipers and a Black Redstart were at the Bill, with 6 Red-throated Divers also through on the sea there, 60 Mediterranean Gulls were still at Ferrybridge and 2 Black-necked Grebes were off Sandsfoot Castle.

We often regret not taking more 'before and after' photos of various habitat management/improvement projects at the Obs but today we happened to have the phone with us and took a little series of snaps through the day of a particularly brutal attack on the far south-west corner of the garden. Although the garden might seem quite small, it takes a huge amount of work to keep it in birdable/ringable/mothable condition and we've had our eye on this bit of it for some time. We're not quite sure which of our worthy pioneers back in the 1960s decided it would be a good idea to plant some Russian Vine here and there, but it was probably a well-intentioned attempt at establishing some cover in quick time - even if this seems to be a plant that has no ornithological or entomological merit whatsoever! Half-a-century down the line this bottom corner of the garden has been absolutely devastated by the stuff to the extent that it's become a completely impenetrable no-go area:

It's hard to imagine that there's a more pernicious and damaging plant than this apparent predator of pretty well everything: we uncovered what we remember as perfectly healthy specimens of Japanese Spindle, Blackthorn and Elder that had literally been smothered, strangled and eventually chocked to death by the advancing tide of creepers:

The one redeeming feature of the stuff is that at this time of year it's dry enough to burn straight away:

The end of a pretty decent day's work with a sizeable chunk returned almost to ground level; we say almost because we haven't actually yet reached bare soil but have been springing around on a dense matt of roots that are going to have to be pulled up individually - that back-aching bit of the job to follow next before we can get something worthwhile planted: