Especially early start today, with the clocks going forward. I was most impressed on my journey here, to see that the public clock in Burley had been re-set correctly. Did someone get up specially to put it forward or, being fairly new, is it adjusted automatically from a radio signal, like the clock in my car???
Given the clock change, I was expecting a fairly quiet morning, but the fine weather encouraged a goodly supply of visitors. it appears that many were here to see and photograph our adders. Several were seen throughout the morning although by the time I got up to the Lapwing Hide only one was partially visible. There have been several good images on earlier postings so I’ve resisted the temptation to adder nother.
The early start meant that a few animals were ‘caught-out’ by my sudden appearance, they get used to having the reserve to themselves earlier in the day. Of particular note were the pair of mandarin on the settlement pond near Ivy South Hide.
Pair of mandarin on settlement pond
They get their name from the fine costume of the drake and the fact that they were imported from China. Originally in a collection at Virginia Water, in Surrey, some escaped and found the U.K. to their liking, to such an extent that there are now more here than in China. A more common connotation of the name is with a small fruit of the orange family, and as these ducks nest in holes in trees, like the fruit they also grow on trees!!!
Regular readers will recall that I have a slightly quirky take on language – hence the title above which refers to the fact that in English both adders and oranges have changed their names over the years. They each used to be preceded with an ‘n’ as ‘a nadder’ and ‘a norange’ , but the ‘n’ migrated across the gap to what we have today.
Spring is really sprung now and everywhere there is bird song. The sheer ebullience of the males in securing a territory and attracting a mate has made them extremely vocal and quite bold. In my early morning tour round I managed to see at least four of the many wrens, whereas normally I would only hear them. Later on, one of the three blackcaps I heard was obliging enough to show itself well enough for me to take a halfway decent picture.
an obliging blackcap
The, now, long staying red-crested pochard was causing some kerfuffle among a group of other ducks, trying to impress them with its magnificence, probably a testosterone fuelled aggression generated by the lack of females of its own species.
red-crested pochard chasing anything in feathers
Across the lakes there are still considerable numbers of duck, although we may have local breeding populations of mallard, teal, tufted duck, goosander and others we will loose pintail, goldeneye, wigeon and shoveler for the summer. Running to their own timetable there is still a little time before they push off to regions northwards. We can only marvel at the strength of purpose that drives them on their travels several hundreds or even thousands of miles to their northerly breeding grounds.
The lovely sunshine of late encourages one to look around, sometimes spotting things that have been around all the time, but just weren’t so obvious. Such a view was the abundance of witch’s broom festooning a tree near Docken’s water.
witch’s broom on tree by Docken’s Water
The power of the life force in humble seeds is well demonstrated by the emergence of this small tree (sycamore?) growing out of one of the drain covers on the tarmacked drive near the reserve entrance.
sycamore(?) growing in a roadside drain
This burgeoning abundance of life provides us with some beautiful sights like these willow catkins just outside the Lapwing Hide.
catkins in sunshine
Even a very primitive plant, mare’s tail, presents us with a startling image in its young stage.
dramatic looking shoot of mare’s tail
Mare’s tail are truly ancient plants – related to the ferns that formed the backdrop to forests at the time (or even earlier) when dinosaurs ruled. A plant of damp or even wet places they have survived the millennia and are nowadays a bit of a nuisance, being quite difficult to eradicate if they pop up in your garden. It’s also difficult to ignore another gardeners’ ‘problem’ plant, celandine, its cheerful bright yellow flowers adorning the woodland areas of the reserve.
the cheerful flower of celandine – like a beacon on the forest floor
Talking of ‘problems’, I remember being out on a wild flower walk many years ago, with an extremely knowledgeable local botanist, but who admitted that field identification of a lot of the little ‘dandelion like’ flowering plants was nigh on impossible at times. There are, however, a few that have such distinctive features making identification fairly easy. One such plant is the colt’s foot which is one of our earliest flowers and has a distinctive, stout stem.
Colt’s foot with its distinctive stems
A lot of the later yellow flowers in this style are a bit of a nightmare to separate.
Talking of nightmares of this sort, for me and I believe a lot of other’s interested in moths, members of the pug family can be quite difficult to identify accurately. Many of them are on the wing in the middle months of the year, so at the momenta lot of species can be eliminated from the possibilities. Working on this principle I think the pug which turned up in the light trap this morning is a brindled pug.
From the smallest to the largest and another brindled specimen was this strikingly patterned brindled beauty.
Sitting more like a butterfly than most moths, the group known as ‘thorns’ can also exercise observational skills – fortunately this one is one of the more distinctive types and its appearance at this time of year chimes in well with the name – early thorn.
As Jim reported earlier in the week, our overnight light trap has attracted the attention of avian predators, probably the robin which waited in attendance when I was emptying the trap last week. Nevertheless, last night Jim had crammed the trap full of egg boxes so that any bird would find it difficult to move around inside. I did find one pair of wings this morning and any moths that had settled around the outside of the trap had been eaten, but there were over 100 moths in the trap. A fitting result for Mother’s (Moth-er’s) Day!!!
The most numerous were common quakers , nearly fifty of them.
Our avian predator may well be from the pair of robins who, in an indefatigable effort are striving to create a nest in the roof of the outside shelter by the Education Centre.
A spectacular piece of avian engineering!!!
P.S. If anyone has lost a rather smart looking monopod on the reserve, it has been handed in – please ‘phone to identify and arrange collection.