30 Days Wild – Day 3

I had high hopes for the moth trap this morning and I have to say I was a little disappointed, so rather than a moth, my insect from the trap for today is a true bug, a striped plant bug, proving once again that it is not only moths that are attracted to moth traps.

striped plant bug

Outside the Centre at Blashford we have a number of planters filled with plants chosen to attract insects. It is not just the plants that can attract then though, we also have a number of wooden posts with holes drilled in them which are used by nesting bees and especially mason bees. At this time of year the species using the largest holes is the red mason bee. These bees, about the size of a honey-bee make cells for each larva which they provision with pollen and then seal up with mud.

red mason bee

Around the Centre the gravel has been colonised by lots of plants that do well in well drained conditions, such as marjoram, dark mullein and hedgerow cranesbill.

hedgerow cranesbill

Where it is less trampled and perhaps not quite so dry the vegetation is taller and at this time of year the bright flowers of green alkanet are very obvious and popular with several of the smaller bee species.

green alkanet

Both this plant and the cranesbill are believed to be old introductions to this country from the near continent. A fair bit of out flora has been imported, by accident or design, much that has come from just across the Channel has settled in and now lives like a native. These species have often come with their own insect and other controls and so don’t get out of hand, unlike some introductions from further afield which have often left their escaped their natural controls, which is why they can do so well and out compete native species.

Osprey!

Just when I thought that migration was almost over we get sent this splendid picture of an osprey flying over Goosander Hide last Sunday, thanks to Jon Mitchell for sending this into us.

osprey jon mitchell

Osprey by Jon Mitchell

My best bird sighting from yesterday was a couple of turnstone on Ibsley Water, it has been a very good spring for these high Arctic breeding waders, by contrast numbers of dunlin, usually one of the most common migrant waders, have been very low.

Numbers of moths have started to increase a bit, although the nights are still rather cool int he main. Sunday night yielded a few firsts for the year in the form of common swift, orange footman and cinnabar. I also saw my first buff-tip of the year, the last fell victim to a blue tit which got into the trap.

buff-tip

buff-tip

One of the regular surveys that happen on the reserve are the butterfly transects, typically May sees a big drop in numbers as the spring species season ends and we wait for the summer species to emerge. This drop in numbers has not been as noticeable as usual this year due to a very good early emergence of small copper and the blues, in our case common blue and brown argus (yes it is a “blue” really, just not a blue one!).

common blue

common blue

Although it has not been very warm, it has been sunny, which seems to be resulting in a good season for insects, or at least for some, I have noticed that dragonflies still seem to be very scarce, although damselfly numbers appear to be picking up. Looking around the Centre area at lunch yesterday I found a lacewing larva, it sticks the husks of its aphid victims to its back as a form of concealment, or at least to make it look unappetising.

lacewing larva

lacewing larva

Out in the meadow I noticed several common malachite beetle, usually on the yellow flowers, many insects favour particular types of flowers, but some also seem to pick particular colours.

common malachite beetle

common malachite beetle

As it was World Bee Day, I will end with a picture of a bee, nectaring at the flowers of green alkanet at the back of the Centre, these bees seem to favour flowers of this type, also commonly seen at forget-me-not.

solitary bee

bee at green alkanet flowers