A Dry Spring

Lots of visitors are coming to the Tern hide at present, drawn in roughly equal measure by the Bonaparte’s gull and great views of the lapwing chicks. The gull was present on and off again yesterday as were 3 little gull (2 of them beautiful adults), up to 27 or more Mediterranean gull and at least a dozen common tern.

The two lapwing chicks in front of the hide are doing well and approaching two weeks old now, this is especially pleasing as they are only protected by their mother, dad having gone missing a while ago. She is driving off all comers, but especially redshank, common sandpiper and little ringed plover, not perhaps the greatest threats to her chicks.

lapwing chicks

lapwing chicks sheltering from a cool north wind.

So far lapwing are having a remarkable year and we have something like 20 pairs nesting with at least five already hatched. Of these three can be seen from Tern hide. The lake shore has the lure of water, where the chicks can find small insect prey, but it is not that safe as it is frequented by many predators. They would be better staying around puddles away from the shore, but the recent long bout of dry weather has meant almost all of them have dried out now, we could really do with some rain!

The good weather has been brilliant for early butterflies though; the reserve has had lots of orange-tip and large first broods of speckled wood and small copper.

small copper

small copper, one of many first brood ones seen this year.

As spring moves on we are now entering “Willow snow” season, when the woolly seeds of the willows are blown around and collect in drifts. It is these light-weight seeds that allow willows to colonise so well as they are carried long distances by the wind.

willow snow

willow seeds

Despite the dry weather there have been a few fungi around and I came across the one in the picture below growing on lichen heath on Sunday, I have failed to put a name to it though.

fungus

fungus on lichen heath

Recent days have seen a good range of birds around the reserve. Both garden warbler and common swift have arrived in numbers and there has been a good variety of migrants. On Sunday a fine male ruff was on Ibsley Water and other passage waders in the last few days have included whimbrel, greenshank, dunlin and common sandpiper.

A Butterfly Day

Bird News: Ibsley Watersand martin c10, water pipit 1, little ringed plover 2. Ivy Silt PondCetti’s warbler 1.

Another “Butterfly Day” warm and sunny, but still quiet for birds. A couple of sand martin were seen visiting the bank at the Goosander hide, but other migrants were restricted to a few chiffchaff, blackcap and a couple of little ringed plover. It was pleasing to see the first sitting lapwing of the season, just to the east of the Tern hide.

sitting lapwing

Unfortunately the fine weather also brought out a lot of wandering persons, some obviously angler baiting up swims for poaching others just not aware of where they are. Worryingly two were in areas used by ground nesting birds, sadly the illegal angling in particular results in nest loss as they will come in at night and stay for hours. They are also involved in illegal fish movements and thefts which spread disease and alien species, this fringe element of angling is actually a serious environmental threat, but one that is hard to tackle (sorry about that!).

I saw rather little on my way around the reserve as I opened up, but a group of 5 roe deer by the badger sett were quite approachable and I got a picture of them, there really are five, honest.

five roe deer (if you look closely)

At the Ivy South hide a pair of lesser black backed gulls were on one of the less successful of our rafts, alright one that didn’t work, but that is how you learn! The female carries a blue ring on the right leg engraved in white with AP, I have seen this bird each spring for at least four years, they stay around and show signs of wanting to breed but always go in the end without seeming to do anything, I will look up the details and post them tomorrow if I remember.

lesser black backed gull pair, with female ringed

The butterflies were out in force again with peacock, small tortoiseshell, comma, red admiral, green-veined white and orange tip all seen and what I feel sure was a holly blue as well.

Forecast for tomorrow is once again “Scorchio” but then it is Volunteer Thursday, so rain was never likely!