Lots of Insects, Thankfully

A very hectic day started with the usual opening up and set up for the invertebrate course, all of which had to be done quickly as I was then off to the southern end of Ivy lake to meet a group from Ringwood School to do some birdwatching after their early morning Himalayan balsam pull. Being at the southern end of the lake gives a slightly better view of the common tern rafts and I am pretty sure there are twenty-one pairs there now, with at least nine pairs on the eastern raft.

common terns on raft

The reeds we planted along the southern shore of the lake a few years ago have done well and are now providing habitat for several pairs of reed warbler and reed bunting.

reed bunting male

I could not stay long with the school group though as the course started at 10 o’clock. I had intended to do an indoor introduction, but the weather was so good and a warm sunny day has been such a rarity this year that we just went out and looked for invertebrates. We were rewarded with what, for this year, was a really good day, lots of things seem to have been waiting for the sun to come out as much as we were. I saw more species of dragonflies than I have managed all year, five species in all: four-spotted chaser, scarce chaser, emperor, southern hawker and downy emerald. I also saw my first meadow brown butterflies of the year, I sometimes see them in May! We found adult mottled grasshoppers, although the field and meadow grasshoppers were all just large nymphs. Near the Centre someone spotted a four-banded longhorn beetle, then another one and another, they are not rare but I don’t remember seeing several in a small area before.

four-banded longhorn beetle

We were using several different techniques for finding invertebrates, we looked at moth trapping, sweep-netting, and just simply looking, but one of the more unusual was using pheromone lures. We put out several designed to attract clearwing moths, the lure is an artificial chemical synthesised to be similar to the natural attractant produced by the female moth. At first we did not have great success but then, moving to a new area attracted a magnificent male red-tipped clearing. All in all a good day and I was so pleased that the weather was with us as looking for insects int herain is both difficult and not my idea of fun at all.

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