Terrapin triumph!

This morning Adam and I headed over to another Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve, Holmsley Gravel pit to clear some fly tipped litter, spray some invasive Japanese Knotweed with herbicide and survey the site for breeding birds. The site unfortunately is swamped with the invasive weed Crassula helmsi, also known as Australian Swamp Stonecrop or New Zealand Pygmy weed, a native of the Antipodes. It was brought to Britain by the horticultural trade but unfortunately when it get’s out in the wild it’s almost to impossible to eradicate.

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Holmsley Gravel pit, the green weed at the lake edge is Crassula

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Nice display of primroses

We also saw another non-native this time from North America, two red-eared terrapins. They must be someone’s abandoned pets, and are a menace to wildlife eating fish, amphibians, insects and even small ducklings. Fortunately British summers aren’t quite warm enough for their eggs to hatch or they would be even more of a problem. I was amazed at how close the terrapins allowed us to approach, so close in fact that Adam manage to slip a net underneath both of them!

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Red-eared terrapin laying on a bed of Crassula

After a couple of phone calls I managed to find someone locally who keeps the species in a garden enclosure and was willing to give them a good home, a brilliant result, better for the nature reserve and better for the terrapins.

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Terrapin not looking too impressed about being netted out of the lake.

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Terrapin on the grass

We did see some native wildlife including a green sandpiper, several snipe, little grebes, swallows and 18 lapwing all using the reserve.

Earlier in the week at Blashford lakes I amazed to see this tiny juvenile adder basking by one of the paths, the 2 pence piece shows just how small it is. It will have been born (adders give birth rather than lay eggs) during July or August last year.

Juvenile adder 13.04 (2)

Juvenile adder

Juvenile adder 13.04 (1)

Juvenile adder and coin for scale

The recent warm weather has seen many migrant birds turn up too, including willow and reed warblers, a few common terns and little gulls, as well as a few sightings of red kites drifting over.

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