Breaking News!

Holt Island Nature Reserve opens for Heritage Open Days 2019

Willow StrippingWe’ll be open as part of Heritage Open Days 2019 to welcome visitors to Holt Island Nature Reserve on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd September (open both days 10am – 4pm).

There will be a display of original Harrison willow baskets and tools, a pictorial display of the heritage of Holt Island and the opportunity to 'strip the willow' with an original tool called a 'Brake' (see picture).

On Sunday 22nd September, 11am – 3pm, Jane Frost will be demonstrating basket weaving.

 

 

 

 

For more information about Holt Island Nature Reserve and Heritage Open Days, visit https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/holt-island-nature-reserve4.

To see what else is open near you, visit https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting.

 

Musk Beetle in the meadow


Musk BeetleWe had a visit from a Brownie Pack this week and went on a bug hunt. We were absolutely delighted when sharp eyed members of the group spotted two Musk beetles as we searched. These long-horn beetles have very long antennae and can measure as much as 4cm! They are widespread but scarce throughout the UK, but wetlands like the Fens are where they are most often found, with the larvae living in the wood of willow trees.

Photo © Alison Gray

 

 

We’ve been bringing you regular updates from our swans' nest, and we're delighted to report that eight cygnets hatched on the 7th May!

Nigel Sprowell reports: “I have been monitoring our swans' nest since the end of March. It does take time to lay a clutch of eight very large eggs and she does have to leave the nest from time to time and when she does so, the eggs are covered in nesting material, making it difficult to be sure how many there are.

Once all the eggs have been laid, she sits tight to brood them as ideally they all need to hatch at the same time. This, on average, can take up to 34 days. During that time she can appear very lethargic and lonely, as her mate tends to stay away, which can give the impression she has been deserted. He does take turns to brood from time to time allowing her a break but in the main he keeps his distance. Recently this led to a member of the public expressing concern for the health our swan. However, regular monitoring and use of 24 hour surveillance cameras allayed any fears. In fact the male has been seen patrolling the end of the Waits by the main river. It is wonderful that people take so much interest in what is happening on our Island.

I am delighted to say that all 8 eggs hatched on 7th May, in line with the average incubation time. Despite being drenched the very next day, all the cygnets look very well and are now giving lots of enjoyment to the public as the proud mum, and occasionally dad, parade them up and down the river, retiring periodically to the nest for a rest and more photos!

I’m sure we all wish them well”

Please note that the grassy path is now open again.  Thank you all for letting our swan family "nest in peace"!

Did you know? It takes 2-3 weeks to build a mute swan nest, which is a huge mound of material, normally dried grasses and assorted vegetation, sticks and rushes, constructed at the water's edge. The nest is built by the female, while the male supplies the materials.  It takes around six weeks’ incubation (sitting on the eggs) before the cygnets (young swans) hatch, and the cygnets stay with their parents for 4 - 5 months.

swan on the nest with chicks   swan and cygnets
 © Nigel Sprowell    © Les Goodey

 
cygnets on the nest

© Nigel Sprowell