30 Days Wild – Day 16

Since Thursday evening something dramatic has happened to the breeding gulls on Ibsley Water, they have completely abandoned their nesting island. I know there were lots of large chicks still on there, so I can only assume that a ground predator reached the island and predated a lot of them. Perhaps most likely is that a fox swam out there and spent some time wandering about killing chicks, but it could have been an otter or mink. Luckily some of the chicks had already flown, so this was not a complete colony loss.

The moth trap overnight caught rather little, unsurprisingly as it was again very windy, with a few showers. There was one notable species though, a lunar yellow underwing, this is a species of very dry grassland and regularly found at only two sites in Hampshire. Curiously I have several times caught them on nights that would generally be thought of as poor for moths, I once caught three in a night of high winds and rain when the total catch was only twelve moths.

lunar yellow underwing

lunar yellow underwing

Wet and windy weather is not good for insects, unsurprising really as they mostly like warm sunshine! I found one casualty in the new Centre pond yesterday.

Emperor dead

Dead emperor dragonfly

The rain and wind has brought down a few trees, a combination of wet ground and a heavy weight of leaves making them much more unstable. In the afternoon we suffered a power cut when a tree fell on the overhead power lines, hopefully to be restored by the start of the new working week. All trees will fall eventually and most will go onto have a value for wildlife, either by continuing to grow or by providing a deadwood resource. One group that uses deadwood are the slime moulds and I found what I think was one on a dead willow stump.

slime mould possibly

A slime mould (possibly)

The patchy sunshine brought out good numbers of insects and other warmth loving species, after a few days in hiding they were keen to get active if they could.

grass snake

grass snake on the stump at Ivy South Hide

 

I saw three different large female grass snake during the day, no doubt tempted out by the sunny spells, but not so warmed up that they were really active.

Other insects out and about included this distinctive click beetle.

Agrypnus murinus

Agrypnus murinus

There were also quiet a lot of solitary bees about, including this yellow-face bee.

yellow faced bee

yellow-face bee (not sure which species)

 

Advertisements

Three in One

Bird News: Ibsley Waterdunlin 1, swift 200+, house martin 400+.

It might have been Thursday and so , as many readers may know, should have been fine for the regular volunteer task, but it was not, in fact it rained all day. The poor weather had forced lots of house martin and swift to feed low over Ibsley Water and also probably caused a late migrating dunlin to drop in. It also meant that it was very difficult to look at or for birds, even from the hides, due to stong winds and driving rain.

I had no expectation of finding much in the moth trap, in fact there were fewer than twenty moths and no single species with more than three individuals. However, there were 3 lunar yellow underwings! As many as had ever been recorded at Blashford before over six years and more of trapping in a single night. This nationally scarce species was as common as any in the trap matched only by white ermine and treble lines. Either it is having an exceptional season or it loves flying in bad weather.

Despite the weather ten volunteers turned out and we covered the upper section of the Dockens Water clearing Himalayan balsam, collecting rubbish and collecting a bit of seed from some of the wild daffodils. The balsam is an invasive alien plant which we have been working to control for many years, the good news is that we do seem to be making good headway and there were very few plants to be found. Rubbish was also in quite small amounts, possibly because the heavy rain we have had has washed it further down stream. We found some daffodil seed, although many seed heads had seemingly been eaten and were missing from the top of the stems. Wild daffodils are quiet common on the reserve where the old woodland floor level has not been disturbed and mainly propagate themselves as the bulbs grow and divide, but they do set seed and these will grow to produce bulbs over  a few years. We were collecting some seed to try to see if we can encourage a native flora in an area of woodland where it has been shaded out by a hundred years of dense rhododendron cover. The native flora occurs right up to the edge of the cleared area but within it there are only species that have grown from the seed bank, mainly foxgloves.

The wind and rain did result in problems late in the day with a large tree down on the path between Ivy North hide and Woodland hide, the fallen tree was cleared but a second stem remains dangerous and the path has had to be closed until the wind drops enough to allow it to be felled safely. I suspect there could well be other problems today as the wind has stayed high all night and is still gusting to gale force.

Underwings, Grouse Wings and Foxgloves

Bird News: Ibsley Waterhouse martin 600+, swift 400+, peregrine 1. Ivy Lakehobby 1.

No time to post yesterday, so a double post tonight. It has been very quiet for birds but there have been a number of interesting insects. First of these was the capture yesterday of a lunar yellow underwing moth. This species has become very scarce in recent years and is now mainly found on the Brecklands of East Anglia. There are now three records from Blashford which indicates a local population. It is named for a black crescent mark in the yellow underwing, unfortunately they do not show their underwings when at rest.

lunar yellow underwing

I also came across a yellow and black bee, it is one of the Nomada bees which parasitize the nests of various species of solitary bees, I am working on the identity, but have not quite got there yet!

Nomada bee

Today saw slightly more in the way of birds. When I opened the Tern hide the wind was brisk and from the north-east, it was really quite cold and as a result there were lots of martins and swifts over Ibsley Water, I estimated very approximately 400 swifts and 600 house martins, but there were probably many more than this.

The moth trap did not contain any really notable moths today but there was a rather fine cranefly.

cranefly

There were also several caddisflies including several of a species known to anglers as the grouse wing.

grouse wing

It was generally a good day for insects and I got a few pictures. The first was of a large species of hoverfly which mimics a bumble bee, it is Criorhina floccosa.

Criorhina floccosa

I also finally got a picture of the soldierfly Odonomyia tigrina, or at least of one that was not being eaten by a spider.

Odontomyia tigrina

Some may remember a picture I posted last year of some amazing woolly looking larvae that were found beside the pond at The Centre on the leaves of a small alder plant. They proved to be of the alder sawfly and today I found an adult on the same plant, it is also a rather splendid insect.

alder sawfly

The reserve was very quiet today and I took the opportunity to do various odd jobs, including moving the “Rivercam” so that it is once again “Compostcam”. Although when I went to check the positioning was right by looking at the big screen int he lobby it was more like “Mousecam”.

“Mousecam”

I will end with a shot of a flower, just for a change, the foxgloves are looking very good just now so here is one.

foxglove