A Constellation of Garlic

A fairly busy day on the reserve today with a steady stream of new visitors, it is always good to encounter people who are still just discovering us after all this time! I was out with the volunteers removing brambles from a warm south-facing bank which I hope will prove popular with insects and reptiles.

It seems odd to say there was not a lot of bird news when the Bonaparte’s gull was still present, but it has been here a while now and most who were keen to see it have done so by now. The first summer little gull is also still with us, otherwise migrants were a dunlin, a whimbrel and at least three common sandpiper. Numbers of swift have increased again I think, with at least 100 zooming noisily about this afternoon.

Out on the edge of the lichen heath I saw a small copper and a grey-patched mining bee.

grey-patched mining bee Andrena nitida

grey-patched mining bee Andrena nitida

I only saw my first damselfly of the year a couple of days ago, I don’t think I have ever waited until May before I saw my first of the year before. My first was, as expected, a large red damselfly and today I saw a single female common blue damselfly.

common blue damselfly

common blue damselfly (female)

As you can see it is not at all blue, but it has not long hatched out and has yet to acquire its colour, many females do not get all that blue anyway.

The wild daffodil have long since ceased flowering and the bluebell are starting to go over, but the reserve’s only patch of ramsons, also known as wild garlic, is looking very fine and in full, starry flower. Half close your eyes and it looks like a firework display  worthy of any New Year. I was hoping to find the hoverfly that feeds on it as it would be new for the reserve, but no such luck.

ramsons 2

ramsons

Although I had not luck with the hoverfly I did find a snail-killing fly near the Centre Pond, I think it is Tetanocera ferruginea.

snail-killing fly-001

Tetanocera ferruginea

Although it was a rather cool night the moth trap did catch a few species including my first pale pinion of this year, never an abundant species, I usually see only a few each year.

plae pinion

pale pinion

 

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Moths and a bit More

The thunder on Saturday night heralded a change to more normal spring weather, but the burst of summer has produced a marked change. In a matter of three or four day the beech trees have leafed up and there has been a dramatic greening of the scene.

The moth trap catches are increasing in numbers and species range. Yesterday’s catch includes several brindled beauty.

brindled beauty

brindled beauty (male)

There was also the first pale pinion of the season.

pale pinion

pale pinion

The early spring species are starting to decline in numbers with fewer Quakers and Hebrew character, although fresh frosted green continue to be caught.

frosted green

frosted green

The number of swift increased again to 25 or more during the day and there were still at least 3 brambling around the feeders. On Ibsley Water a single common sandpiper was the only sign of wader passage. Some of the black-headed gull are starting to settle down to nest and the common tern are pairing up, so the nesting season is showing signs of getting going properly after a slow start.

Pinion and Thorn

More warblers today, with chiffchaff and blackcap firmly established and the Cetti’s warbler( at least two on the Reserve) giving rise to their splendidly piercing song.  Four or more reed warbler, two seen in reeds at southern end of the settlement pond and at least one each by the Ivy North and South Hides.  Although not yet seen  (or reported as seen ,anyway)  cuckoo have been heard at various locations across the reserve as were the songs of willow warbler in two different areas.

One lucky visitor saw a sparrowhawk flash past him and land briefly on the ground, then fly off with a prey item.

Out on Ivy Lake a pair of great-crested grebe were performing their courtship dance with head shaking and bobbing, whilst nearby, on one of the large buoys, a couple of common tern were pariently waiting for our tern rafts to be deployed.  It’s a delicate matter to decide when these rafts are to be put out again  each spring. They need top be there to encourage the terns to stay and breed, but if they are put out too early they’ll be colonised by black-headed gulls. If there are enough terns around they are, collectively, aggressive enough to see-off the gulls.

The ‘catch’ from the moth trap, although still relatively small in number, has started to provide a little more variety, this time in the form of an Early Thorn and a Pale Pinion.

Early Thorn

Early Thorn

Pale Pinion
Pale Pinion

 Fairly quiet in terms of visitor numbers (where are you all?), we took the opportunity to remove and replace a few seed feeders and cleaned them and a couple of niger seed feeders as well.  Not one of the most romantic of tasks, but it needs to be done on a fairly regular basis.

In The Pink and Double Yellow

Bird News: Ibsley Watercommon tern 5, little gull 1, common sandpiper 3, little ringed plover 5, goldeneye 3, yellow wagtail 2, white wagtail 1, swallow 30+, house martin 3+, sand martin c100. Ivy Lakereed warbler 2, Cetti’s warbler 1.

A much colder and wetter day than of late but with rather more birds as a result. Opening the Tern hide I saw 3 common sandpiper and 3 little ringed plover on the shore near the hide and a few hirundines over the lake. It was then cool but dry and as I left the hide I heard a yellow wagtail calling as it flew over northwards. However the day fairly quickly became wet with a persistent light rain, this resulted in an increase in the number of birds over Ibsley Water. In particular there was an arrival of a small group of 5 common tern, a fine adult summer plumage little gull, complete with a full hood and a pink flush on the breast and a mixed flock of swallows and martins. A search of the islands revealed 2 yellow wagtails distantly near the western shore and later a single male white wagtail. There were also at least 3 goldeneye still present, including an adult drake.

The night was not as cold as many recently and there were a few more moths including a pale pinion.

pale pinion

Otherwise the day was quiet and I spent much of it doing an analysis of waterfowl data for the last ten years, which accounts for the lack of pictures here. A better day is forecast for tomorrow so there might be more people out and about and perhaps even more birds to be found.