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)

 

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A Beautiful Day

Despite the overnight rain and a rather soggy start to opening up the day turned out to be quite sunny eventually.  Dockens Water was running high as you can see here in this view from one of the bridges.Image

I didn’t open up the Tern Hide car-park first thing as the level of water was such that it was only accessible to anyone wearing Wellington boots – this eventually drained partly and so was opened later.

Next Sunday I’m due to lead a walk looking for ‘ Spring Firsts’ and when these things are planned and put in the events diary it’s always done with the hope that the weather will be kind and that nature will conform to the ‘normal’ pattern of seasonal progression.   Having had a short walk around this morning I’m quietly confident there will be things to see, but can’t promise what the weather will be like…

Many trees are starting to show signs of the changing season including  willow catkins.

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Catkins just starting to burst out – note the flooded Tern Hide car-park in the background

On the ground the leaves of many plants are pushing through the soil, including lots of wild arum (Arum maculatum) like this rather delicately spotted leaf found under some trees by the path.

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Arum is a fairly common and widespread plant with a distinctive flower spike (spathe)pushing up inside a cup-like leafy structure (spadix) and it has many alternative old country names including ‘cuckoo pint’ and ‘lords and ladies’. It is, perhaps, better known from the stage once the bright red berries have formed.

Woodpeckers have been drumming regularly, lapwing displaying and giving their characteristic ‘peewit‘ call and at least one pair of great crested grebe have been engaged in courtship display.

Around the feeders in the Centre car-park area both siskin and lesser redpoll  are using the feeders and taking food off the ground.

Redpoll on feerer P1390218

Lesser redpoll on niger seed feeder

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Fine male lesser redpoll taking advantage of spilled food on the ground – probably been on the reserve for some time – note metal ring on right leg

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Siskin waiting in a tree before flying down to the niger seed feeder

There are still a few brambling around and one of our regular visitors has reported seeing a hawfinch in the same area on more than one occasion. This bird is rather shy and has only been seen from some distance, so don’t expect it to be as obliging as the siskin and redpoll.

Worryingly one visitor reported hearing the sound of mating mink, it’s apparently a high-pitched screaming, just outside the Ivy South Hide .