Not a lot of wildlife seen today as I was mainly driving around collecting materials. Along the way I dropped into Fishlake Meadows to drop off some posts and pick up the Blashford ladder, the purple heron that has been there for a few days had been seen, but I never made it out of the car park!
I did run the moth trap at Blashford overnight, there were not a great many moths but this little Tinea semifulvella was new for the year. The larvae feed on fur and feathers, often in old bird’s nests.
When I finally got back to Blashford at the end of the day it seemed it had been another big day for emerging dragonflies, with lots more emperors and some small species too. They usually emerge pre-dawn and make their first flight in the early morning, as they ar every vulnerable to predation by birds when they first emerge. However one had emerged and was still inflating its wings, not an emperor I think, perhaps a black-tailed skimmer, but I am not at all sure.
We occasionally get involved in larger projects and one such is the search for the elusive noble chafer beetle. This big green beetle is known to be in the New Forest, but is regarded as rare, but how rare is not known. It is similar the the much commoner rose chafer, so maybe some get passed off as that species. A project has been set up to try and answer the questions around just where it is and how frequent. It turns out they find one another by use of a pheromone which ha snow been synthesised, meaning they can be attracted to a lure and counted before being released. We are helping out, or trying to, so far we have attracted no beetles, but of course negative data is valuable data, so we are contributing.
The cool autumn nights see rather few moths flying, but those that are around include some of the most attractive of the year. A personal favourite, as I have posted beforen (several times!), is the Merveille du jour, with its black, white and green colour scheme, there was one particularly fine one in the Blashford trap this morning.
A lot of autumn moths are yellow or brown, presumably as camouflage as the leaves change colour, but there are also several with shades of green. The merveille du jour would be well hidden on a lichen covered tree, whereas the green brindled crescent might do better in the vegetation.
Although the moth traps with their ultra-violet light attract most of the moths it is also worth checking the security lights and today the one at the Centre door had attracted a micro moth Tinea semifulvella, a species with caterpillars that eat organic debris in places like old bird nests.
The trap attracts various other insect as well, most conspicuously caddisflies. Unfortunately these are harder to identify and I have never spent much time trying to name them, although I do have an identification key, but it takes time to get started on a new group and I never seem to have any of that to spare.
At least I am pretty confident about the genus of the one above, I have not even got that far with the one below.
Over the last few years the alder trees that used to line the Ivy Silt Pond have been dying or otherwise have needed to be felled, gradually opening up the view from the footpath. The aim now is to try to open up the view along as much of the path’s length as possible. This does make it easier to see the birds on the pond but, more importantly, it makes it easy for the birds to see us. Wildfowl on water feel quite safe, even if there is a predator about, so long as they know where it is and know they can escape if they need to. In this case we are the potential threat, but if we can be seen and are a safe distance away that is probably okay. By cutting the bramble to about waist height they can easily see we are behind the hedge but can easily follow where we are as we go down the path. In this way they are likely to habituate to the presence of people, but it does take time.
I was delighted this morning to see 24 mallard. 2 gadwall, 2 teal and a wigeon on this pond, what is more all, apart from the teal, stayed feeding quietly as I walked by. Habituation would be my preferred option throughout the reserve if it were possible, it offers more opportunity to see the wildlife, but it does depend upon the separation between people an wildlife to be very predictable. It works well on coastal sites with deep ditches or mudflats separating viewer from the wildlife, such as is found at Farlington Marshes or Lymington/Keyhaven Marshes. Contrary to what you often read walking on the skyline is actually a good thing on these sites as the birds can always see where the people are and know that if we are on the top of the seawall we are not a threat. Perhaps unsurprisingly wildlife likes to feel safe and avoids unpredictable situations. One way to accommodate more wildlife into our lives is to understand this and plan accordingly, we could have a lot more space for wildlife without actually needing more physical space, all we need to do is think about how we design and use the space we share.