In the Balance

Bird News: Ibsley Waterhouse martin c1500. Ivy Lakecommon sandpiper 1.

The last couple of days have seen huge numbers of house martins over Ibsley Water, yesterday something over 2000 and today at least 1500. In addition yesterday there were several hundred swift and sand martin and a few swallows. Today there were fewer swifts and so few swallow that it took me several minutes to see one. The only other bird of any real note that I saw during opening up the hides was a common sandpiper with the common terns and black-headed gulls on the rafts on Ivy Lake. The black-headed gulls look quite settled but one pair were getting a very hard time from the common terns today so perhaps they will get driven off in the end as they were last year.

Although there was a frost overnight the day dawned sunny and this was good to see as I was leading a course on invertebrates at Blashford today. It was still quite cold and this kept the insects in hiding, in fact the recent cold weather has set the season well back, I still have not seen any species of dragonfly and the moth catch was reduced to just three this morning. Looking for sun-loving species like hoverflies was a waste of time so we were restricted to largely sweep netting and log-rolling. Despite this we did not have a bad day and saw a few good species and a lot that were new to the participants. The sunny spells did tempt out a few damselflies including azure, blue-tailed and beautiful demoiselle. we are repeating the course in June and July when it will surely be warmer, won’t it? I snapped this ant, which did not get identified to species level, while we were out and about hunting inverts.

ant Myrmica spp.

Although the highlight from the Tern hide were the martins I was distracted by a black-headed gull on one of the near posts it was preening and eventually went for a particularly daring scratch manoeuvre, probably only something to attempt on a calm day.

black-headed gull scratching

 

black-headed gull, preening

 

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