30 Days Wild – Day 17 – Butterflies and More

We have been doing butterfly transects at Blashford Lakes for some years now, I say “We”, what I really mean is that the volunteers have been doing them. I used to do transects myself on previous sites I have managed and thoroughly enjoyed doing them, an opportunity to go out on site for the main purpose of looking for wildlife, something I actually get to do rather rarely! In theory I have always been on the rota to help with the transects at Blashford, but as a stand-in, if someone else is unavailable. Well this week I have been called upon and as it was warm and reasonably sunny this afternoon I headed out.

It was not a classic butterfly day but I did see 26 butterflies of four species. Most notable were the five red admiral, I suspect they are new migrants as the weather is set fair for an arrival of migrants over the next day or so. Locally bred were meadow brown, common blue and speckled wood.

speckled wood

speckled wood

Whilst looking for butterflies it is inevitable that you will see other invertebrates, I saw six species of dragonflies and damselflies, several yellow-and-black longhorn beetle and lots of the larger summer hoverflies, especially Volucella bombylans and Volucella pellucens. 

Vollucella pellucens

Vollucella pellucens

Not all of the invertebrates were adult, I found a vapourer caterpillar feeding in the open, something they can afford to do, as they are protected by a dense coat of hairs which most birds will avoid.

vapourer caterpillar

vapourer caterpillar

Some things I cannot identify, or at least not accurately, one such is this digger wasp, I am pretty sure it is one of them, but which one?

digger wasp

digger wasp spp.

Some of the invertebrates were not insects at all, I came across a loose bit of bark on the ground and under it were several slugs, the familiar leopard slugLimax maximus.

leopard slug

leopard slug

This is the common native large slug in woods and gardens. However it is increasingly being overtaken in abundance by the green cellar slug, Limax maculatus. This is a species native to wood in the Caucasus area that was accidentally introduced some fifty years or so ago and is now spreading rapidly.

I

yellow slug

green cellar slug Limax maculatus

One plant that is oddly scarce at Blashford is honeysuckle, so I was pleased to see one of the few plants we do have growing well in magnificent, full flower.

honeysuckle

honeysuckle

Lastly a picture of a rare plant in Hampshire, but one that is quite common at Blashford, slender bird’s-foot trefoil, it is flowering abundantly just now.

slender bird's-foot trefoil

slender bird’s-foot trefoil

Quiet a “Wild Day” considering I was stuck in the office wrestling with report writing for quiet a good part of the day and also out doing path clearing for part of the day.

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30 Days Wild – Day 29

A day spent in a staff meeting, but as it was a Wildlife Trust staff meeting at least most of it had some wildlife content and it also incorporated a very wet BioBlitz. I was asked to head up a team, we came a good bit behind the winners, although they were always going to be the botanists. We went for variety and in our approximately 15 minutes recorded a mammal, an amphibian, several birds, four molluscs, three crustaceans, two moths, a butterfly, a millipede, a centipede, a harvestman and a number of plants, there was also a lot of unidentified wildlife.

raindrops

perfect BioBlitz conditions!

We had to tell a short tale about one of our species, this resulted in a range information from dragonflies and  caddisflies, to parasites and parasites of parasites. I went for a slug, there is a slug story for all occasions, no really there is! (well almost anyway). Mine was of leopard slugs, which like a few other related species, mate dangling from a long thread of mucus, if you have never seen it this was one of the stand out scenes from “Life in the Undergrowth”. It lead to a further sluggy story from our celebrity guest, we don’t always have one of these, but we did today. Today’s celebrity was Nick Baker, his story was about the other slug in my pot, Arion ater. He told us how they rock from side to side when prodded, which I knew, but also, which I did not, that the thick mucus the secrete at the same time has an anaesthetic effect, he knew this because he had licked one!

 

Hidden Wonders

Bird News: Ibsley Watersand martin 5+, black-necked grebe 1, redshank 2. Ivy Lakebittern 1, Egyptian goose 4, goldeneye 1. Woodlandbrambling 1.

Yet again I could hardly see half way up Ibsley Water as I opened up, but through the mist I saw at least 5 sand martin, but I have no doubt there were more as I could only see them when they were low over the water. I also found a black-necked grebe, looking very good in pretty well full summer plumage. There was still no sign of any little ringed plover, although pairs of oystercatcher and redshank were looking settled and several male lapwing have taken up station on potential territories.

On Ivy Lake today a bittern was seen briefly in flight for the third day running. There has been a noisy pair of Egyptian geese prospecting nest sites around the lake for a while now and today a second pair appeared and violent fights ensued, I think they have the potential to become a real nuisance.

All I saw at the Woodland hide was a good number of lesser redpoll, although I saw the male brambling several times via the camera link on the TV in the Centre and I note in the log book that a female was seen yesterday as well.

It got very pleasant in the afternoon once the sun came out and I spent a while moving the logs from the diseased alders we felled a while ago. It is a very light wood once it dries and so is ideal for various uses in the education areas, even the smallest mini-beast hunter can roll an alder log without too much effort. In fact I came across a good range of invertebrates as I was moving the large logs so that I can cut them to size, most impressive was a splendid yellow leopard slug.

leopard slug in yellow

Leopard slugs do not usually come in yellow, their normal colour range is shades of grey, so this one was rather a surprise, it was also well patterned.

Leopard slug, close up of head and mantle

There were also several snails including the one below, I have tried looking it up and found a possible identity, but it would be a guess so I have opted for caution and left it unidentified, unless someone out there can put a name to it..

snail

Of course there were lots of worms, woodlice and several beetles that would not stay still long enough for a picture, the same was true of most of the millipedes, apart from one which was in curled up mode, the legs look almost like a feather-like and the whole effect is reminiscent of an ammonite, at least to me.

millipede curled up.

In their own way each of these mini-beasts is quite stunning, the finger print-like pattern on the mantle of the slug, the ultra glassy shine on the snail-shell and the three dimensional study in arcs and circles that is the millipede, each one repays a second and a third really good look.