30 days wild so far

We are now over a week in to the wildlife trusts 30 days wild month, where we try and do one random act of wildness every day of the month of June. I have so far managed mainly a tweet a day! A couple of busy weekends have meant I’ve had a couple of gaps though, I have tried to make up for these as much as possible.

I started on day 3 by getting out to do some work at Fishlake Meadows, the north section of the canal path was becoming quite overgrown and needed strimming. To help keep things wild and to support invertebrates I only strim one side of the path at a time. This leaves one side taller and with plants still in flower with nectar and pollen sources still available. By the time I then strim the other side the vegetation that was cut first usually has some flowers again.

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North section of the canal path with one side of the vegetation strimmed

Once I had finished strimming the paths I walked down to the viewing screens, either side of the path has lots of different wildflowers and lots of insects. I spent some time taking photos and videos, and while recording an azure blue damselfly a common soldier beetle flew in to shot and landed.

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Azure blue damselfly with common soldier beetle about to land on the right.

On day 4 I was at Blashford Lakes helping Bob with the Tuesday volunteer group, where we spent some time getting the newly built tern rafts ready, which should be launched soon. There are lots of tern rafts that go out on the lakes around the reserve, and the volunteers really enjoy building the rafts and getting them ready. It was a very warm day and we enjoyed having a look at the wildflowers and insects. One of my favourite flowers, scarlet pimpernel was out in flower and I saw a painted lady butterfly! My first of the year.

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Volunteers and Bob getting the new tern rafts ready.

On Wednesday it was time to carry out this years habitat condition assessment through the meadows and fens of Fishlake Meadows. This simple survey is designed as a quick and easy way to get a feel for how the habitat is doing. In randomly selected 1 metre quadrats we look for a set list of plant species that are considered positive indicators for the habitat. We also record how much scrub is present and negative indicators such as nettle and thistle cover and leaf litter. Quite a few volunteers were able to help with the survey, making the spotting of flowers much easier.

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Bob Page and volunteers assisting with the condition habitat assessment.

Day 6 and back at Blashford Lakes with the Thursday volunteers, we were continuing with searching for and pulling Himalayan balsam. Whilst working through a particularly nettley section of the reserve we then emerged at an area filled with flowering foxgloves. It looked beautiful and several of us took a moment to just enjoy looking at them.

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Beautiful foxgloves flowering in a clearing near the silt pond.

On Friday the 7th, in the afternoon I led a guided walk for the Fareham Local Group at Fishlake Meadows. Fortunately we were very lucky and just missed the worst of the downpours. We had a lovely walk and were treated to the sound of cuckoos, reed warblers, whitethroats, stonechats, cetti’s warblers and many more. We also had lovely views of house martins, swifts and reed buntings as we walked down the permissive path. Once we made it to the screens we could see 2 great white egrets, one wading through the water, where it caught a huge fish! We could see the fish slowly moving down its long, thin neck, which looked quite uncomfortable to us. A hobby was making the most of the break in the rain, swooping over the water right in front of the screen and then landing on one of the dead trees, giving us a great view of it. I wasn’t able to get a photo of the egret or hobby, so instead posted a photo of a lovely yellow flag iris which are in flower all over the reserve.

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Yellow flag iris

I had quite a busy weekend so only managed to send a tweet for both days on Monday. Saturday morning Bob and myself led a guided walk for Romsey Local Group in to Ashley Meadow. As Bob has said in his blog recently, this area isn’t open to the public, so the group enjoyed getting to have a closer look through the meadow. There are many lovely wild flowers through the meadow, including southern marsh orchids, some particularly bright. Whilst looking through the meadows I was able to net an azure blue damselfly and a common blue butterfly for people to get a closer look.

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Very bright southern marsh orchid

On Sunday I was off work but very busy, whilst heading out I noticed in the front garden that there was a poppy in flower again. I have had them flowering in the front garden a couple of years ago but they were absent last year, so I was very pleased to see one back again.

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Beautiful poppy in my front garden

This week looks a bit miserable weather wise, but I will still be getting out and about lots and should hopefully have more wildlife delights to share.

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