A Gruesome Gift

Bird News: Ibsley Waterbar-tailed godwit 1, whimbrel 2, swift 60+, hobby 3, black tern 2, little gull 1, raven 1.

A much better day, but it could not have been much worse, the rain gave way to a mostly sunny day with butterflies and a variety of insects out and about. The winds were more less southerly and this raised the temperature and blew in a few birds, although they took a while to arrive.

A first look from the Tern hide yielded a single bar-tailed godwit, always a good wader inland and this one was being chased around by territorial lapwings, but seemed reluctant to leave. The only other bird of note was a raven doing rolling display flights just to the west of the Salisbury road.

Later in the day things started to pick up with the arrival of 2 black terns, a first summer little gull and two whimbrel, which joined the godwit. Swift numbers increased steadily through the day to about 60 or more by the time I left. The hide log recorded up to 3 hobby seen, although they still elude me.

None of the birds offered themselves for a picture, but various insects did. At lunchtime at the Centre I got a picture of a fine little bee, which I have so far been unable to put a name to.

unidentified bee

There was also an alderfly posing on a dead stem, they have excellent wings with very strong veins, almost like the leaded window.


I had to go across to the Goosander and lapwing hides in the afternoon to deal with a few fallen branches and put up a warning sign about path flooding. The sun was still out and I saw a few orange-tips and a male brimstone nectaring on ground-ivy. There were quite  a few hoverflies about too, although I only got a picture of one rather fresh Eristalis pertinax, one of the droneflies.

Eristalis pertinax

Rather more impressive was a pair of predatory flies, which I think were Empis stercorea. In this species the males catch a fly as a meal for the female while they mate. In the pictures the male is supporting the pair and prey by hanging from the stem by his front legs and holds the female with the other two pairs. The female is eating the meal he has given her whilst mating proceeds. i think the prey is a St Mark’s fly, or at least a Bibionid of some kind.

Empis stercorea pair with prey from front

I think they are worth two pictures, so here is another.

Empis stercorea pair with prey from rear

Things then went rather downhill as I got a report of two men on the shore of Ibsley Water with a dog, I eventually caught up with them standing on top of the sand martin bank, not doing much for the martins.

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