30 Days Wild – Day 16

Since Thursday evening something dramatic has happened to the breeding gulls on Ibsley Water, they have completely abandoned their nesting island. I know there were lots of large chicks still on there, so I can only assume that a ground predator reached the island and predated a lot of them. Perhaps most likely is that a fox swam out there and spent some time wandering about killing chicks, but it could have been an otter or mink. Luckily some of the chicks had already flown, so this was not a complete colony loss.

The moth trap overnight caught rather little, unsurprisingly as it was again very windy, with a few showers. There was one notable species though, a lunar yellow underwing, this is a species of very dry grassland and regularly found at only two sites in Hampshire. Curiously I have several times caught them on nights that would generally be thought of as poor for moths, I once caught three in a night of high winds and rain when the total catch was only twelve moths.

lunar yellow underwing

lunar yellow underwing

Wet and windy weather is not good for insects, unsurprising really as they mostly like warm sunshine! I found one casualty in the new Centre pond yesterday.

Emperor dead

Dead emperor dragonfly

The rain and wind has brought down a few trees, a combination of wet ground and a heavy weight of leaves making them much more unstable. In the afternoon we suffered a power cut when a tree fell on the overhead power lines, hopefully to be restored by the start of the new working week. All trees will fall eventually and most will go onto have a value for wildlife, either by continuing to grow or by providing a deadwood resource. One group that uses deadwood are the slime moulds and I found what I think was one on a dead willow stump.

slime mould possibly

A slime mould (possibly)

The patchy sunshine brought out good numbers of insects and other warmth loving species, after a few days in hiding they were keen to get active if they could.

grass snake

grass snake on the stump at Ivy South Hide

 

I saw three different large female grass snake during the day, no doubt tempted out by the sunny spells, but not so warmed up that they were really active.

Other insects out and about included this distinctive click beetle.

Agrypnus murinus

Agrypnus murinus

There were also quiet a lot of solitary bees about, including this yellow-face bee.

yellow faced bee

yellow-face bee (not sure which species)

 

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Not an Osprey and a Bit of a Stink.

I was over at Blashford all day today and started with a walk out to the Goosander hide, it was a bit cold and there was light rain and perhaps this was why the sand martins seemed rather few. However on the way there I saw a patch of columbine near the path, this is a native plant, but these were garden escapes. In fact they are quiet common as escapes and are to be seen on roadsides all over the place. Unfortunately the garden forms are often doubles or pale colour varieties and they cross with wild plants diluting the “true” wild plant’s genes in the process.Columbine

In the same part of the reserve I was pleased to see that the seasonal ponds we put in a couple of years ago are holding water, admittedly with the weather we have had perhaps this is not a surprise, but still gratifying.

seasonal pond

seasonal pond

Up at the Lapwing hide I was impressed by the huge numbers of swift feeding over the lake, at least 550 by my estimate, forced to feed low over the water by the poor weather. If it continues they will delay or even fail to breed, so I hope things improve soon. I also saw the Egyptian geese that have taken up residence on the osprey pole, the male was stood up and while the female was sitting out of sight.

not an osprey!

not an osprey!

I was working in the office pretty much all day, but I did get out around lunchtime and found lots of damselflies resting up on the foliage.

damselfly head on

damselfly head on

I also caught the distinctive whiff of a stinkhorn fungus and quickly found two, of which this was the best.

stinkhorn

stinkhorn

The smell attracts insects, mainly flies, but in this case also a small click beetle.

small click beetle on stinkhorn

small click beetle on stinkhorn

I then realised there was something odd about the fly that at first I thought just was resting there.

stinkhorn with fly

stinkhorn with fly

It was dead and seemed to have been overwhelmed by some sort of fungus.

dead fly on stinkhorn

dead fly on stinkhorn