On Thursday the volunteers cleared the annual vegetation from in front of the Tern hide, we do this each year for a couple of reasons. The most obvious is that it improves the view of the nearest shore from the hide. Another is that it clears the ground for the nesting lapwing and little ringed plover next spring. There are also always some seedling bramble, birch and willow that need pulling out before they get established.
The shore before we started
and after a couple of hours of hard weeding
Looking out from the hide today this did not make much difference as visibility was seriously reduced due to persistent heavy rain. Despite this there were some birds to see, including at least 800 sand martin, 3 swift, 2 dunlin, a little ringed plover, 3 common sandpiper, 33 mute swan and 3 pochard. Ivy Lake was quieter with just a few coot, gadwall and great crested grebe, there are also still two broods of two common tern chicks on the rafts.
Today was not a day for invertebrates, but I do have one more picture from Thursday, spotted in long grass as I went round locking up, a wasp spider, my first of the year.
At last summer seems to have arrived! The Tuesday volunteers and I were working along the western shore of Ibsley Water and for what seemed like the first time this year we were surrounded by butterflies and other insects. We have been working for the last few years to try to reduce bramble, nettle and willow scrub and encourage a flower rich grassland in this area and it finally seems to be paying off. Last winter we cleared some new bramble and willow patches and our task was to cut the young growth that was coming back in advance of the arrival of the ponies.
grassland on the shore of Ibsley Water
As we worked we saw lots of meadow brown and marbled white butterflies and over the lake egg-laying black-tailed skimmer dragonfly. In places we are now seeing increasing quantities of wild flower including several patches of ox-eye daisy.
ox-eye daisy patches
The transformation of this shore in the last ten years has been considerable. when the gravel pit was finished there was a large spoil bank running the whole length of the lake and this was colonised by an almost impenetrable stand of creeping thistle and ragwort. This was cut and eventually replaced by nettle, and now, with further cutting it is becoming grassland at last.
Over the last few days I have seen a number of young wader chicks around the reserve. Near the Tern hide there are two pairs of lapwing each with broods of three chicks. Out on gull island there is at least one well grown oystercatcher chick and again near the Tern hide I saw a fledged little ringed plover chick a couple of days ago and today two chicks that should fly in the next couple of days. If we add the apparent success so far of the terns it is looking like quite a good breeding season.
You may remember an earlier blog about lime hawk moth, the female laid some eggs and since they hatched we have been rearing them, not on lime but birch, which they seem to eat quite willingly. We started with about forty larvae, but when they were a week or so old all but three suddenly died, I have no idea why as the remaining ones continue to grow well.