30 Days Wild – Day 19

I don’t often work on a Saturday, it is usually one of Jim’s days, but today I was at Blashford along with several volunteers and very few visitors. There was a live streamed event as part of the Trust’s Wilder Weekend, Craig put on a great show doing a virtual pond dip. Tomorrow I am doing a live moth trap opening unfortunately the forecast is not good for moths overnight, cool with rain and quite breezy. Last night was not great either and the trap was quiet this morning, but there were a couple of rather nice micro moths. Taleporia tubulosa is a little unusual, only the males have wings and the larva lives in a long case rather like a caddisfly. it also eats a variety of things from lichen, to insects via dead leaves, not typical caterpillar food.

Taleporia tubulosa

A second tiny moth I have identified as Pammene argyrana, although this may not be correct as I find these small ones tricky. Like a lot of the tiny moths, you can only really appreciate them when they are magnified, something that is much easier to achieve easily now that digital photography is here.

Pammene argyrana

I worry that there will be very few moths tomorrow, especially if we get prolonged rain, but we will just have to go with what we are given, looking for insects is always a rather uncertain business.

Today was generally cool and overcast so not a day to look for dragonflies, unless of course you find one that has just emerged, as we did beside the pond at the Centre, I think it is an emperor, I guess it emerged early in the morning hoping for sunshine to dry off and harden the exoskeleton before flying off, unfortunately it chose the wrong day.

freshly emerged dragonfly

After yesterday’s rain I spent a good bit of time today cutting back fallen vegetation from the path sides. We try to keep all our paths to a standard that will take an electric buggy or pushchair to maximise access to the reserve. If you are going to have good access it is an advantage if it is to areas that are varied and interesting. Blashford does have a lot of varied habitats, but there are still areas that rather uniform, such as the old silt ponds. As these dried out they were colonised by willows, over time they grew, all the same age and close together forming a jungle of stems with very little foliage at the top. Over the years we have been clearing areas to make rides, the wetter parts have become reedbed and we tried coppicing to create some thickets. This last did not work as the deer browsed off the new growth, so we tried pollarding, which worked but did not give us low thicket stage vegetation. To achieve this we have had to resort to laying the trees over, cutting most of the way through the stems, so they still grow. This is not enough though, as the deer will still ate off the new growth, so we have to pile branches over the stems or lay another willow onto the first and so on with each protecting the last and it does work.

creating a willow thicket