It’s not so long ago that I commented on the unusual amount of sheep sorrel that was setting the lichen heath ablaze with a sea of red – if you visit the reserve now the red sorrell seed heads are still to be seen, but the blaze of red is being replaced by a striking sea of pink as the common centaury comes into flower.
This is a bit of a catch-all, catch up blog for which I and my colleagues can only apologise for the lack of blogging activity in recent days – Steve’s in again tomorrow and will hopefully blog in with one of his usual entertaining and informative summaries of his day around the reserve.
Our excuse, as normal, is that we have been busy – Michelle and I with lots of large school groups and Ed and Adam with brush-cutting and strimming around the footpaths, ragwort pulling and Himalayan balsam removal.
Having said that Michelle and I did take a bit of time out from the hectic summer of teaching commitments to spend a more relaxing day with the volunteers on Thursday, whom we gave a bit of a break from their usual tasks with a pond and river dip in the morning and, for the education volunteers who have had enough of the pond and river by this end of the summer term, a walk up to Lapwing Hide and back. A good time was had by all!
I nearly called this blog entry “It’s amazing what you can see on a walk without kids” but after the title of the last blog by Michelle, didn’t want you all to think that the Education team at Blashford didn’t like children! Having said that we do see an awful lot more on those occasions when we are able to get out on the reserve without a group; the highlights on Thursday afternoons (very warm) wander up to Lapwing Hide and back were lots of dragonflies (keeled skimmer, scarce chasers, brown hawker, emperor, common blue and blue tail damselflies), butterflies (comma, small tortoiseshell, small skipper, large white, marbled white, speckled wood and meadow brown – one pictured here nectaring on ragwort):
This silver-y moth was near by – and very obliging for a day flying moth which in my previous experience can be a bit flighty!
The chicken-of-the-woods fungus has “emerged” from it’s usual tree stump along the river…
…and it was while l0oking at this that we realised that a somewhat rarer example of wildlife was slithering around our feet:
Although by no means rare, slow worms are not at all common at Blashford for some reason and this is in fact only the second I have seen within the reserve (a couple of years ago though I did see a third not far from this spot, on the public footpath that leads from the reserve along the Dockens Water to Moyles Court). A real treat and good to know that there is a small but thriving population very nearby, if not actually within the reserve itself.
Having opened up this morning and with no groups in to get ready for I took advantage of the opportunity to sit down with the light trap and practice my moth ID skills. The warm nights have proven fantastic for moths over the last few days so there were plenty to have a go at!
The warm weather (and the length of time it took me to identify some of the catch in the trap!) meant that a few of the more flighty waves flew before I got to them but excluding the “ones that got away” there were 38 species today, including the following pretty and/or unusually named examples:
Bird wise it seems that great crested grebes have had some late breeding success, as they seem to do every year on the reserve (why they don’t just breed later in the first place, I don’t know!), with adults with single chicks on Rockford, Ivy Lake and the lake north of Lapwing Hide all seen this week. Unfortunately a bit far away to photograph, still always a lovely sight to see the babies cadging a lift on Mum or Dad’s back! Despite their somewhat raucous and rowdy neighbours, the black-headed gulls, it seems like the common terns are actually doing okay on the nesting rafts on Ivy Lake too. Ed reported fledged youngsters yesterday and although I didn’t see any flying there were a couple bobbing around on the water and several more hauled out on the various other rafts and floats around the lake who I suspect aren’t quite ready to fly, but not far off and had bailed out from the rafts fed up of suffering the attentions of the gulls. One had made it to the grebe/coot nesting float outside Ivy South Hide meaning it was close enough for a “digibinned” photo:
As long as Mum and/or Dad find it to give it its fish, it, and the others who have jumped ship so to speak, should continue to do fine.