Bird News: Ibsley Water – dunlin 1, swift 200+, house martin 400+.
It might have been Thursday and so , as many readers may know, should have been fine for the regular volunteer task, but it was not, in fact it rained all day. The poor weather had forced lots of house martin and swift to feed low over Ibsley Water and also probably caused a late migrating dunlin to drop in. It also meant that it was very difficult to look at or for birds, even from the hides, due to stong winds and driving rain.
I had no expectation of finding much in the moth trap, in fact there were fewer than twenty moths and no single species with more than three individuals. However, there were 3 lunar yellow underwings! As many as had ever been recorded at Blashford before over six years and more of trapping in a single night. This nationally scarce species was as common as any in the trap matched only by white ermine and treble lines. Either it is having an exceptional season or it loves flying in bad weather.
Despite the weather ten volunteers turned out and we covered the upper section of the Dockens Water clearing Himalayan balsam, collecting rubbish and collecting a bit of seed from some of the wild daffodils. The balsam is an invasive alien plant which we have been working to control for many years, the good news is that we do seem to be making good headway and there were very few plants to be found. Rubbish was also in quite small amounts, possibly because the heavy rain we have had has washed it further down stream. We found some daffodil seed, although many seed heads had seemingly been eaten and were missing from the top of the stems. Wild daffodils are quiet common on the reserve where the old woodland floor level has not been disturbed and mainly propagate themselves as the bulbs grow and divide, but they do set seed and these will grow to produce bulbs over a few years. We were collecting some seed to try to see if we can encourage a native flora in an area of woodland where it has been shaded out by a hundred years of dense rhododendron cover. The native flora occurs right up to the edge of the cleared area but within it there are only species that have grown from the seed bank, mainly foxgloves.
The wind and rain did result in problems late in the day with a large tree down on the path between Ivy North hide and Woodland hide, the fallen tree was cleared but a second stem remains dangerous and the path has had to be closed until the wind drops enough to allow it to be felled safely. I suspect there could well be other problems today as the wind has stayed high all night and is still gusting to gale force.