Last Monday I helped Bob put a couple of tern rafts out on Ivy Lake, something he had been hoping to do for a while but needed someone on site whilst he went out on the water. So when I say ‘help’, I do mean it in the loosest sense of the word as I kept an eye on him from the comfort of Ivy South hide.
The view from Ivy South hide – the spiders have moved in and the vegetation is taking over!
Luckily, two of the rafts were still on the edges of the lake, so they just needed moving out into position in the middle and securing in place. By the end of the day there were six common terns interested in one of the rafts and this number has gradually increased over the course of the week. In wandering down there today there were at least twenty either on the raft itself or flying around overhead, with a few black-headed gulls. We would usually put out more rafts but without volunteer support to make them and move them (not a job that allows for social distancing) they will have to make do with these two instead.
A blurred Bob out on Ivy Lake with two tern rafts (I liked the foreground!)
Whilst waiting for Bob I listened to the reed warblers with their distinctive chatty song and watched a pair of great crested grebes out on the water. I also noticed lots of newly emerged damselflies, yet to develop their full colours and markings, on the stems growing outside the hide. It takes a few days for them to develop their colouring, a useful survival mechanism as at present they are not quite ready to fly so blend in rather well with the vegetation. Lower down you could make out the cast skins or exuvia clinging on to the vegetation following their final moult and emergence as an adult.
Great crested grebe
Newly emerged damselfly
Bob has also been busy strimming step asides into the edges of some of the footpaths, where it has been possible to do so, to create areas for people to pass each other more easily and aid social distancing when walking around.
In addition we have been busy planning extra signage for some of the footpaths and will be making some routes one way, again to aid social distancing and enable people to visit safely. Crossing the stretches of boardwalk safely will be particularly difficult, so people will be directed over these a certain way. We hope to begin putting signage up this week, at the entrances to the reserve and also at path junctions, so if and when you do visit please keep an eye out for them. Hopefully we will have ironed out any snags by the time we are able to open a car park, which fingers crossed will not be too far off now, we will keep you all posted…
It has been nice to spend a bit of time out on the reserve – I was back just in time to experience the bluebells along the Dockens Water, although they are going over now, and also heard my first cuckoo of the year this week. I wasn’t sure I was going to hear one this spring. There is also still some greater stitchwort flowering along the Dockens path:
On Ibsley Water the large raft is mainly occupied by black-headed gulls, although there were a couple of common tern on there early last week. It’s lovely to see the common terns back again for another summer.
Large raft on Ibsley Water
Female mallard with ducklings
By the Centre there has been plenty of insect life around the pond, with beetles, bees, dragonflies and damselflies making the most of the sunshine:
Green malachite beetle
Large red damselfly
On Wednesday Bob and I were sat having lunch when the female mallard he had noticed on the new Education Centre pond made an appearance, followed by 13 ducklings. We watched them topple off the boardwalk into the water, one or two at a time, and enjoyed their company whilst we finished eating. Later on that afternoon they moved over to the original centre pond but I haven’t seen them since, so I hope they are ok.
It has also been really nice to be able to rummage through the moth trap again, although with a few cold nights it has been quite quiet. Here are some moth highlights:
Light brocade – I think!
Lesser swallow prominent
There have also been a number of cockchafers in the light trap. Also known as May bugs or doodlebugs these large brown beetles also fly around at dusk.
Cockchafer, May bug or doodlebug
On Thursday I found the exuvia or final moult of a hawker dragonfly in the pond and fished it out to take a closer look:
Leaving it out in a sunny spot to dry out I completely forgot about it, only remembering once I had driven home that evening. By this morning though it had found its way onto my desk, so Bob must have spotted it too!
I have also visited the meadow a couple times, the oxeye daisies are looking beautiful now they are coming into flower, rivalling the gorgeous pink display of ragged robin by the Welcome Hut which Jo shared a photo of last week. The common vetch and buttercups are also flowering and there are a few common blue butterflies on the wing.
Thick-legged flower beetle
Common blue butterfly
The beautiful green beetle above has many names, it is known as the thick-legged flower beetle, false oil beetle and swollen-thighed beetle. Only the males have thickened hind legs, I might have to visit the meadow again in search of a female.