Wildlife stars in abundance!

Blashford is at least as lovely place a place to work as it is to visit… although unfortunately time spent necessarily, although very reluctantly, in the office, does mean that we staff often miss out on sightings that some lucky visitors enjoy. Yesterday this included an otter (watched for 10 minutes swimming around Ibsley Silt Pond, the small lake just north of/behind Lapwing Hide) and a bittern (first reported sighting of this season, observed in the usual hot spot in the reed bed by Ivy North Hide).

Of course being here every day there are other “stars” whom we are privileged to see very regularly and even, dare I say it, take a little bit for granted at times; birds like kingfisher (had a lovely view of one perched/fishing in front of Ivy South Hide this morning) and, of course, the great white egret. Christened Walter White by Ed (for reasons known only unto himself!), this lovely picture of it in flight by Tern Hide earlier in the week, was sent in by David:


Great white egret by David Stanley Ward

Great white egret by David Stanley Ward

Perhaps of less interest to some, but even more interest to others, is this moth which I recorded in the light trap this morning. Obviously a footman, it was larger than I am used to and I have identified it as a (male) four-spotted footman. Don’t worry about the lack of spots, it is the female that bears those! It is possible that I have misidentified it, but if not this is, according to the book, a nationally scarce moth with a small population in the New Forest (and other small populations else where in southern England and west Wales). The caterpillars of this species feed on tree lichens, of which we certainly have plenty on the reserve.

Four-spotted footman?

Four-spotted footman?

Speaking of lichens, I did take a picture of some on the lichen heath this morning, for no other reason than they looked quite stunning in the wet, grey and overcast weather:

Lichen on the lichen heath

Lichen on the lichen heath

As is often the case, the photo does not really do it justice! They do seem to be doing well this year; possibly as a result of the particular weather conditions, or possibly associated with the small reduction in visitors which the weather has bought about, and an associated decrease in trampling by the same, as we know that they do not fare well with regular trampling and this is why the footpaths across the reserve all skirt around the lichen heath.

Also flourishing in the warm wet conditions this month are fungi:

I mentioned the earth stars that have come up in a previous blog, but was unable to take a picture at the time. I have now recovered the camera and couldn’t resist photographing this very lovely specimen this morning:

Earth star

Earth star

This nearby shaggy ink cap was also particularly impressive:

Shaggy ink cap

Shaggy ink cap

Unfortunately the picture is not great, but, with my binoculars in-situ for scale, I hope you can appreciate the awesome majesty of this fungus, which has to be the largest example of this particular species that I have ever come across!


2 thoughts on “Wildlife stars in abundance!

  1. Spot-on with the four-spotted footman, we have the Dockens Water corridor of ancient woodland to thank for them being on the reserve, it acts as a great link to the New Forest.

  2. We saw the earth stars yesterday on the Ivy South hide path intersection, and they are Collared Earth-stars. Nice one with the 4-spotted footman, it’s a great moth to find!

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