The highlight today was a pair of little ringed plovers with 3 chicks that remained in front of Tern hide throughout the day, but didn’t quite venture close enough for photographs. We spent the morning pulling ragwort on the northern shore of Ibsley Water with the Thursday volunteers, we made good progress and I hope after a couple more sessions we will have completed this unpopular task. During the afternoon I had planned to carry on strimming footpaths but because of the heat we decide to do some survey work instead. Volunteers Ellie, Tom, Ben and I headed over to the grassland on the approach to Lapwing hide to count the orchids in this area. Adam mowed this area during the winter and the result has been a real increase in orchid numbers.
Unfortunately many of the orchids had been nibbled by the reserves large population of fallow deer, so to try and prevent this volunteers Judy, Pete and Rex put mesh cages around some of them earlier in the spring. A few, particularly by the path, have managed to escape the attention of the deer and flower too which was quite pleasing.
The total count was 9 bee orchids, 9 heath spotted orchids, 7 common spotted orchids and 56 southern marsh orchids. Not huge numbers but not bad for an ex-industrial site with very poor acidic soil and a large feral deer population. I suspect if the deer weren’t so abundant in this area our counts would of been a few hundred judging by the number of nibbled orchid stems.
Another nice find while looking for orchids was a garden tiger moth caterpillar, an impressively hairy beast creeping in the grass.