Sparrows!

There is not much bird news as such at this time of year, migration is as near to being over as it ever is, there is always something on the move, the last of the high Arctic waders are still going north and the first returnees will only be days away. Of course I am wrong to say there is no news, the nesting season progresses, this morning I saw that the oystercatchers on the west shore of Ibsley water still have one chick growing well. Meanwhile on Ivy Lake the common terns are all sitting tight on there clutches, hopefully they will have another successful year. In fact when I opened the Ivy South hide I did make a very notable bird observation, there were 2 house sparrows on the trees in the water below the hide. Both were females and they were collecting newly emerged damselflies, they do this to feed their nestlings, but must have come some distance. These were only the second house sparrows I have seen on the reserve proper, they do breed around the boundary but records from the central area are very rare indeed.

house sparrow female

Not a great picture I know but I thought worth it for such a notable record.

The moth trap was busy again after another warm night, a good range of species but nothing rare. One of the commonest species at present is the treble lines, most of them look very similar to one another, but just one or two each year look so different that you would almost think they were another species. The picture shows a typical one on the right and the unusual dark form on the left.

treble lines, typical form on right, dark form on left.

The day started very cloudy but slowly brightened and was another good insect day in the end. As the sun came out I realised a lot of insects were basking on the nettles and brambles near the Centre, one of the most frequent was scorpion flies and they all seemed to be males. These are not flies or scorpions, they have four wings and get their name from the curved tip to the abdomen, it is not a sting however but the male’s sexual apparatus. There are three species in Britain and although the wing pattern looks distinctive to be certain of the species the genitalia need to be examined. This is probably Panorpa communis, the commonest species generally.

male scorpion fly, probably Panorpa communis

As the day warmed I was putting the moth trap in the shade when Jim came out of the Centre tp say a large grass snake had just swam past the pondcam, we looked on the log beside the pond and sure enough there wa sa large female grass snake. It quickly became apparent that it was not the one of the camera though, it was still in the pond and then started to skirt the edge in hunting mode.

grass snake hunting around the pond edge

It was Volunteer Thursday once again and fourteen people turned out despite having to walk over from the main car park due to the repairs to the entrance track. We did several tasks, path trimming, always vital at this time of the year, weeding brambles from the education meadows and laying a new cable from the Education Centre. During the afternoon the track repair really got going and by the end of the day most of the worst pot-holes were filled.

I am next in on Sunday when, if the forecast is to be believed it will be cold and wet, catching up on office work may become an attractive option.

 

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