Another warm day spent mostly applying wood treatment to the bird hides, not the most pleasant of jobs, but we need to eke out as many years as possible from the hides. Most are in their mid-teens now and will not last forever and whilst funds for capital projects like initially installing a hide can be obtained, with a bit of luck, replacing them tends to be a lot more difficult. We tried to stay out of the full sun as much as possible and so retreated from Lapwing Hide, which is very exposed, at lunchtime and went to Woodland Hide, which is more shady for the afternoon. The sun did bring out the first marbled white and meadow brown of the year on the reserve, the latter decidedly later than normal.
On our way back for lunch we passed through the still inaccessible path through the old concrete plant. We have overseen the restoration of this area with the view of getting it added to the reserve, but it has been difficult as the “soil” is mostly crushed concrete and hardcore stone. At least it is not nutrient rich, which in the long run should mean we get a much more diverse flora, but it makes establishment a slow process. We have done some seeding and a little planting, some of which has been protected from deer by fencing, the effect is dramatic.
The sun had brought out the dragon and damselflies again and the pond by the Centre was alive with egg-laying groups of azure damselflies.
It has been a good year for four-spotted chasers on the reserve, this is a common species in pools on the New Forest but often scarce on the reserve, so it is good to see them regularly.
I posted a scarce blue-tailed damselfly the other day, so here is its common counterpart found on the reserve today.
All the dragon and damselflies have aquatic larvae, their nymphs having to avoid getting eaten by other larger nymphs, water beetles and fish for about a year or more if they are ever to fly. to survive many will need to find lots of dense water plants to hide out in. The silt pond on the way to Ivy South Hide is ideal and it has a large population of the semi-emergent water plant, water soldier. It has arrived here, probably from a garden pond, as it is not native in this part of the country, although it is a native plant in the UK.
I will end Day 15 with one of the most spectacular plants of the season, the foxglove, this one was beside the path toward Ivy South Hide.