A Giant Felled

I will miss out bird news today as there really wasn’t any. The insects continue to hot up though with the moth trap having over thirty-five species including a few new for the year and one quite scarce one, a beautiful brocade.

beautiful brocade

The caterpillars feed on bog myrtle, so it may have wandered down from the New Forest or possibly have been reared on our very own small patch. Other moths included the first large yellow underwing of the year, spectacle, nut-tree tussock, maiden’s blush, orange footman, snout, alder moth, buff tip and silver Y.

alder moth

Non-moths included an orange ladybird and a giant lacewing. It was also a good day for various other species, I saw my first Odontomyia tigrina, a species of black soldierfly, of the year, but failed to get a picture as it was just too far to reach over the pond. I did get a fair shot of a bee-fly though.

Bombylius major

Just before lunch the overflow form one of the tanks in the loft started to gush into the stones behind the Centre, the ball valve had failed and a quick trip to the builders merchants was in order, fortunately it did not tack too long to fix. However on my way back I noticed the giant hogweed plants on the verge near Ivy Lane and decided I really should do something about them before they get too established, so int he afternoon I went down and cut through the tap-root of each one below the lowest leaf, which I understand should kill the plant. I had thought all the plants were ont he verge but I did find one inside the reserve, this is yet another invasive alien species and one we do  not want, although magnificent to look at it  a serious skin irritant and can become very dominant and then difficult to control.

cut down giant hogweed

On my way back to the Centre I passed the Ellingham Inlet Pound where there were good numbers of red-eyed damselflies and my first black-tailed skimmer of the season, although so newly emerged as to not have a black tail yet.

black-tailed skimmer, newly emerged male


blue-tailed damselfly


beautiful demoiselle

Some were not quite so lucky and one male damselfly had fallen prey to a spider.

spider with damselfly

At the end of the day I went out onto Ivy lake to deploy the refuge rafts for the common tern chicks, they are actually just old pallets but they serve very well. They provide a place to large chicks to perch if they get blown off the rafts when exercising, just before they can fly, this can result in them getting dumped into the water and then not being able to get back on the nesting rafts due to the fencing around the edge. The danger is that if they spend a day int he water they get cold and die, whereas if they can climb out somewhere safe they can usually fly within a day or so and are usually fine.

afloat with tern refuges

I wa sable to get a count of the tern nests, there were seventeen with eggs, sixteen with the usual full clutch of three, one of one, which is probably a new nest and still with eggs being laid. There was also a nest scrape with no eggs so I expect there are eighteen pairs in all.




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