White Water Rafting

I know I have left Blashford for the distant seaside world that is Farlington Marshes some time ago (incidentally there is a blog for there too “The 108ft blog” you can find it at http://solentreserves.wordpress.com/) , but today I was back to try to get the tern rafts on the water. I was also there to say a big welcome to the new reserves officer Ed, who will no doubt be posting in the near future.It was volunteer Thursday and we had intended to get the rafts onto the lake and in position but the high winds prevented us from doing that, so we contented ourselves with getting them prepared and on the water ready to put out when the wind drops. There were actually breaking waves on Ibsley Water today, definitely not a day to be towing tern rafts!

raft preparation

raft preparation

As we worked we saw several common tern flying overhead calling for us to get on with the job.

Having got all four rafts onto the water we headed back to the Centre for some lunch. There was a school group in doing some pond-dipping and they had caught some interesting beasties including several sub-aquatic caterpillars.

ringed china-mark larva

ringed china-mark larva

They all seem to have been larvae of the ringed china-mark moth, I know it seems an odd idea but they really do live underwater as caterpillars eating water plants. They also had some dragonfly larvae, after a false start identifying it I am now pretty sure it is the larva of a migrant hawker.

migrant hawker larva

migrant hawker larva

After lunch Ed and I went on a short tour of part of the reserve, it really is a great site, so much variety and always things of interest to see. I saw my first garden warbler of the year and with the common terns on Ibsley Water 2 Arctic tern were also my first. We checked under one of the tins and saw two grass snakes, this was the larger one.

grass snake

grass snake

Looking at Ibsley Water at the end of the day the 2 Arctic tern were still there along with at least 32 common tern, a bar-tailed godwit, 2 dunlin and hundreds of swallow, sand and house martin and swift. I also see there was a turnstone reported form near the Tern hide, but I missed that.

Although this might not quite be my last ever Blashford Blog post, the reserve is now well and truly in new hands, I hope Ed enjoys it as much as I did!



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