Hard work and splashing around

Our monthly Wildlife Rangers meeting has come around quickly and we began the day by rummaging through the light trap and practicing our moth identification. Luckily for us, many of the species had been attracted to the trap at our last session, and were excitedly recognised and named by some of the group. These included cinnabar, buff tip, poplar hawkmoth and eyed hawkmoth. The light trap also revealed another elephant hawkmoth and a small magpie, which didn’t hang around for a photo, but our highlight was this buff arches. Although widespread and common in Hampshire, we enjoyed admiring its markings.

Buff arches

Buff arches

It was then time to get on with our main task for the day, replacing the log circle in the woodland which has become more and more rotten over time. The group did a great job and got stuck in with removing the old logs, wheel barrowing the new logs to the site (no mean feat as they were a fair distance away, past Ivy South hide, over the boardwalk and just over the Dockens Water) and digging them in.

Removing the old logs

Removing the old logs

Removing the old logs

Removing the old logs

Whilst removing the old logs, we came across one newt and a couple of toads, all of which were re-located to safety.

Toad!

Toad!

Finally it was time to sit back, admire our hard work and double check the logs were both level and comfortable – please note Geoff is still working hard…

Our new woodland log circle

Our new woodland log circle

Hopefully it will last a while!

After refuelling with some lunch, we headed down to the Dockens Water for some river dipping. We had a go at kick sampling the stretch we usually use with visiting schools and groups and on events, before heading further downstream to see if there was any variation with our catch. Despite being heavily dipped, the first stretch still revealed a couple of bullhead fish and a minnow, along with the usual freshwater shrimp, mayfly and stonefly nymphs and cased caddisfly larvae.

Downstream the same species were present but in a greater number. We dipped a short stretch which was much narrower and where the river was flowing through at a much quicker rate, not really expecting to find much because of the faster flow. Here we found the same species, but they were all much smaller in size, possibly in an attempt to avoid being picked up by the flow and carried downstream. Just beyond this narrow stretch the river is more open and there are fewer trees shading the channel, resulting in more weed growth. Here we caught another bullhead, beetle larvae and lots of pond skaters, in addition to the species mentioned above. We could have river dipped here for a lot longer, but sadly it was time to finish off and head back to the centre.

River dipping in the Dockens Water

River dipping in the Dockens Water

After finishing the Rangers session, volunteer Ellie and I went to the rescue of another young bird, this time a blackcap chick which had fallen out of its nest and had made its way into the middle of one of the reserve’s footpaths. It was still really small and had not yet properly developed its flight feathers, so would have been predated if left. We removed the chick from the middle of the path and after a quick phone call it went off to the local wildlife rescue centre. It certainly seemed well and appeared ready for its next meal.

Blue tit chick

Blackcap chick

Sticking with birds, the Oystercatcher was spotted with two chicks outside Tern hide, one had obviously seen Jim coming yesterday and had hidden from him, and at least one grass snake obliged visitors outside Ivy South hide by basking on the logs. Finally, when locking the hides I was so busy looking for the grass snakes I failed to notice this swan and its three cygnets dabbling just below the window, so thought I’d share this photo. I’m not sure our Blashford swans have been blogged in a while…

Mute swan with cygnets

Mute swan with cygnets

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