The Blashford conservation Thursday ‘magic’ continues to work as once again, despite a prediction of heavy showers this morning we managed to get a couple of hours work done on knocking back the willow scrub developing along the south shore of Ibsley Water. Today we were working on a peninsular to the west of the Tern Hide in an area that isn’t immediately accessible. In truth getting to it wasn’t easy and I hadn’t had the chance to check out the best route . Hoping to avoid climbing over a rather steep embankment, I took most of the volunteers on an ‘interesting’ ramble where at one point we encountered a fallen tree across a little used path. Fortunately we’d ‘come equipped’, so managed to cut it up and clear the path. My chosen route wasn’t entirely successful and we ended up climbing the bank anyway – still nobody complained too much! Arriving on site there were three roe deer in residence and they gradually became more agitated as we approached finally scattering and, whilst yours truly was trying to photograph one of them in doing so tripped over a tussock – another one made its escape across the lake.
Whilst this looked quite dramatic, most mammals are quite capable of swimming. I was reminded by a Radio 4 programme this morning talking about Hannibal and his elephants that he lost quite a bit of time on one of his campaigns , building rafts to ferry the elephants across a river – no one told him they could swim. Another piece of mammal trivia – don’t know if it’s actually true – is that camels are the only mammals that can’t swim.
What with the longer walk and the additional work on the fallen tree we started a little later than planned, but still managed to make substantial inroads on the willow scrub. Another session should have it cleared and, hopefully,it might encourage some of our more nervous nesting birds, such as lapwing and little ringed plover to use the area next year. Having had a rain free session we were finally encouraged to pack up work by a short sharp shower at five to twelve.
Anyone who’s been here will have noticed that we tend to go in for rather large bird feeders, but we have, for a long time, had a number of smaller feeders some of which have been donated, in storage. A couple of volunteers have made a start on building a , hopefully, squirrel proof support structure near the Centre car-park where we can put up some of these feeders. Watch this space for more news.
It’s been lovely weather for ducks and although we didn’t see too many when we were working earlier there are still the usual array on display – although the weather hasn’t encouraged me out to take any pictures.
The overnight light trap yielded nine species of moth including a mottled umber, black rustic, common marbled carpet and red sword-grass. Perhaps for me the ‘star’ of the catch wasn’t a moth at all but this rather splendid, I think, ichneumon wasp/fly , which was on the light fitting of the trap.
As I think I’ve said before, I’m no expert on these things. I take some comfort from the fact that the reference books I looked in can’t agree – some say ichneumon fly others ichneumon wasp. In fact it might not be one of these beasts at all. Having consulted five different field guides I’m still not 100% sure, but at least I now feel like a scientist as I remember when a student being told that using one book for reference was ‘palagurism’, but two was ‘study’ and three was ‘research’!!!!!