Birthday Set-up Finds

We spent yesterday preparing for today’s Big Birthday Bash to celebrate 20 years of outdoor education at Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve. As Jim detailed in his last post everyone is welcome to come along and help us mark this milestone by having a go at an activity like pond dipping, river dipping or sweep netting, or just meeting the staff and some of our wonderful volunteers.

As often happens when we are working out on site interesting things were found and yesterday’s top find was probably a magnificent caterpillar.

alder moth caterpillar

alder moth caterpillar

They are very brightly coloured and it will come as no surprise that they are distasteful and avoided by predators. They also have long paddle ended setae, a type of modified “hairs”, which make them look quite strange.

alder moth caterpillar detail

paddle shaped seta detail on alder moth caterpillar

I had never seen one of these caterpillars before and although the moth is not uncommon the caterpillar is not often found, but I described it as only “probably” our top find of the day with reason.

At lunchtime a visitor came in with a “hornet” they had found in their camper van. It was actually not a hornet, but a horsefly, in fact one of the largest species there is.

large Tabanus

female Tabanus species

The common large horsefly is Tabanus sudeticus, however there is another, very, very rare species that looks similar and is recorded from the New Forest. Although it is difficult to be sure of the identification this one has a lots of the features of the rare Tabanus bovinus. It is quite pale, has large triangle marks and a generally brownish hue.

large Tabanus 2

large Tabanus species

It is also possible to see that the underside is mainly pale and the eyes distinctly green. Unfortunately as it flew into a camper van somewhere in the New Forest it would not constitute a Blashford record, but given how extremely rare the species is it would still be of great interest if it could be verified.

I hope to see you at Blashford later today!