What a Difference a Day Makes –

Firstly apologies for not posting yesterday – this was due to a cybernetic thrombosis – otherwise known as a ‘clot on a computer’. I’d started a posting but somehow managed to lose it in cyberspace!!!!

So in a special ‘two for one’ offer I’ve concatenated a few notes from yesterday and today.

Sunday was a quite brilliantly sunny day which is in keeping with conservation work parties (although I believe the previous Sunday work party in September was particularly wet.).

One of the rarer habitats on the reserve is the lichen heath, an area surrounding the water treatment plant and close to the small car-park on the way to the centre.  This primarily consists of very fine, nutrient poor silt and fine sand which are the washings from the old gravel workings.  The lack of any goodness in this soil makes it a great place for lichen to grow, but it is now starting to be invaded by pioneer species such as birch. If left alone this would eventually become a scrubby area with no particular special features, so we set about taking out some of the young and not so young  birch and bramble.

View of Water treatment Plant before clearance

and after

The obvious bushes are gone, but so too are a huge number of very small saplings – not bad going for a team of seven ( ‘The Magnificent Seven’) volunteers.

With bird numbers on the increase, there is now a steady stream of visitors including blue tits, great tits, nuthatch, chaffinch, greenfinch goldfinch and siskin, together with collared doves and even robin on the feeder with pheasant lurking around the base for spilt seed.

Even thought the brightness of the sun tends to wash out the colours, it’s tempting to try to capture some pictures of even the most common birds in the sunshine,

Chaffinch in tree by feeder

A rather ‘rakish’ looking nuthatch pinching a black sunflower seed.

Although bright, it had been cold overnight, and the light trap on Saturday/Sunday had few moths in it. In contrast today it had rained overnight , but there was an 800% increase in moth numbers – O.K. it was only 18 moths, but much better than the two on Sunday.  There was also a tremendous increase in the number of caddisflies attracted to the light trap – I guess they had  been brought out by the last couple of warmer days.

Caddisfly

Otherwise the grey and grizzly weather today was altogether uninspiring and views across the lakes hampered by the slightly misty conditions. There were quite a large number of lesser black-backed gull loafing on Ibsley Water and the selection of wildfowl continues to expand with the range of duck species  improving on a weekly if not daily basis. Tufted duck, mallard and gadwall are fairly easily seen with many of the others such as pochard, wigeon and teal present but not always obvious, as they invariably seem to lurk at the far side of the lake. (It doesn’t matter which side of the lake you look from, they’re always on the far side!!! How do they do that??)  Whilst there are many young birds and adults in different states of moult , it can still be a bit of a nightmare identifying  which species any particular bird belongs to.

Our ever-present pheasants – refugees from the rough and tumble of the surrounding countryside where, apart from the lack of so much free food, they also might risk getting shot – continue to provide photo opportunities including this one that wasn’t  afraid of being ‘on the table’ but preferred to keep its feathers on for the trip!

The ‘ready for table’ pheasant

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