Early yesterday morning I carried out a breeding birds survey and while at the southern end of Ivy lake I was please to notice how great the habitat was looking. The volunteers removed willow and birch from this area during the winter and then Adam strimmed back bramble, the result has been a big increase in the grassland plants particularly ox-eye daisies, forget-me-nots, common vetch, bugle and even some heather.
Later in the morning we headed down the road from Blashford into the New Forest to Linwood Nature Reserve, where we dug out rhododendron stumps with mattocks and spades. Some of the plants were small and came out easily others put up more of a struggle but we still removed a great number. We also weeded out non-native conifer saplings, mainly Douglas fir, Norway spruce and western red cedars.
Some of the stumps were so big and heavy it took several of us to move them using corrugated metal sheet.
The plan is to leave the stumps and saplings on the corrugated sheets to prevent them re-rooting, and then put them on a bonfire in the autumn. Thank you to the volunteers who as usual did a great job.
Yesterday afternoon I came across a raft spider on the path near Goosander hide, a brilliant creature I had been hoping to find at Blashford lakes for a while.. Raft spiders are the largest spider in Britain by weight and body size but not leg span as a few species have longer legs. They hunt by running on the surface of water, and can submerge to hide from any would be predators.There is a few ponds in this area which have almost dried out so I suspect this spider was on the move to find new habitat. It was quite a large individual around 20 millimetres long in length, although they can get slightly large than this. The hairs on it’s thorax and abdomen give it a really smart velvety look.
Earlier in the week, we had a phone call saying there was another snake in Tern hide! This time it was a grass snake hiding in a corner, which I released on the bank near the hide. Thanks to David Cuddon for sending us this photo.
David also emailed us this nice photo of a Jay on Ivy lake and a shot of the lapwing chick at Tern hide, which looks bigger and more lapwing like by the day.