A Clear(er) View

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.

before

The shore before we started

after

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.

wasp spider

Wasp spider female with prey.

 

Advertisements

Still Wild After all These Days

Summer moves on, at Blashford on Sunday I saw my first gatekeeper of the year, oddly a little later than in some years, most other butterflies have been merging a little earlier than usual, so I am not sure why they alone are later.

gatekeeper

The first gatekeeper at the year

It was also the first day I had seen brown hawker dragonfly, although I would guess they have been flying for a couple of days. The first common tern chicks also flew, even if a little tentatively, hopefully we will see over seventy fledge this year. Another first for the year was Essex skipper, they at every like small skipper, but tend to fly a couple of weeks later.

Essex skipper on yellow rattle

Essex skipper on yellow rattle

At least I think it is an Essex skipper!

I had another go at getting a flight shot of a hoverfly, a very frustrating thing to try, this was my best attempt.

hoverfly

hoverfly

I went on a walk down the Dockens Water to check where we will need to go Himalayan balsam pulling and if we have missed any plants. I found a few, but also a number of native marshland plants.

marsh bedstraw

marsh bedstraw

water forget-me-not

water forget-me-not

Calling, Calling

Bird News: Ibsley Watercommon sandpiper 1, yellow-legged gull 1. Ivy Lakemute swan 21, common tern c15 flying juveniles.

As it was Sunday and the start of another month there was a volunteer task this morning, typically the Sunday tasks draw many fewer volunteers than those on a Thursday, so I was pleasantly surprised when seven people turned up. We set about tidying up the entrance areas either side of the road, improving visibility, cleaning the signs and generally sprucing things up a bit. I set about some fo the brambles with the hedge trimmer, unfortunately in the process I dropped my mobile phone. There was a time when I would not have had one even if I had been given it, let along thought it indispensible, however times change. We spent a while looking for it, phoning it and listening without success. After putting the tools away I decide  to have one last try, I called it as I retraced my steps, still no luck, then I spotted it lying on the grass verge. It is not a stylish phone, in fact it is old and battered, but I would not have wanted to have to replace it.

In the afternoon I was leading an “Insect Bioblitz”, basically a bug hunt. We started by looking through the moth trap, which was actually quite disappointing for the number and range of moths but was saved a very splendid privet hawk-moth. We then headed off into the meadow and fortunately the sun came out. We saw several butterflies, including marbled white, meadow brown, red admiral and small skipper. There were three species of grasshoppers now adult: meadow grasshopper, mottled grasshopper and field grasshopper, we also saw nymphs of speckled bush-cricket and long-winged conehead. On the way back to the Centre I caught a little micro moth, like a lot of them it had an almost metallic sheen, it was a common species, although you need to magnify it to  really appreciate it. The species is Argyresthia brockeella, the larvae eat birch and alder, both of which ar every common at Blashford.

Argyresthia brockeella

As I went about the Centre to lock up I came across a green lacewing on one of the windows of the building, the black of the window allowed the veins in the wings to show up really well and I got a picture I was rather pleased with.

lacewing, possibly Chrysopa carnea

I also spotted a zebra jumping spider with a caddisfly, I think one of the longhorn sedges on the sign board just outside the Centre, there were some depth of field problems getting a picture, especially with the “long horns”.

jumping spider with caddisfly

Locking up the hides I was pleased to see that there are about fifteen common tern chicks now flying around the rafts on Ivy Lake. There were also 21 mute swans, the most I have ever seen on this lake, the reason for this is that until this year the occupying pair were so vigorous in defense of the water that other swans rarely stayed more than a few minutes. The new pair, although they try just don’t have the same power to drive away intruders.

At the Tern hide I saw a common sandpiper and a second summer yellow-legged gull, the season is certainly turning now and we will start to see more and more birds heading back southwards over the next month. Our cuckoos have already departed, I have not heard one singing for about a fortnight and only expect to see juveniles now.