Blossom, Bees and Balsam

Bird News: Ibsley Waterwater pipit 1, mandarin 1, Egyptian goose 2, sand martin 2, green sandpiper 1, Mediterranean gull 1. Ivy Lakewater rail 2.

Yet another brilliant sunny day with temperatures topping twenty degrees. The hawthorn is coming into leaf and the blackthorn into bloom.

blackthorn bloom, or just possibly another Prunus as the blossom is a bit large.

Opening the Tern hide I saw the water pipit briefly before it flew off with about a dozen meadow pipits when a male sparrowhawk flew down Ibsley Water. There were 2 sand martin over the lake, but they did not stay and a single adult Mediterranean gull bathing before heading off north. The sighting of the morning though was a drake mandarin that flew north right up the centre of the lake. It turns out there was also one on Ivy Lake a short while later and in the afternoon I saw a pair on Mockbeggar Lake, so I am not really sure how many there were in all.

At the Ivy North hide the water rail pair were calling loudly, I took this as complaint as they were being chased around by a belligerent moorhen.

There were butterflies all over the reserve today, although I still could not find an orange tip. I suspect there could be large red damselflies out somewhere, I have seen them in March before, but only once and some years ago, I had a search of likely spots but unsuccessfully. Other insects were out in good numbers, bumblebees including several common carder bees.

common carder bee

The bee-fly Bombylius major was out in force and I saw the hoverfly Tropidia scita for the first time this year. These were near the Dockens Water where I also found several plants, some more desirable than others. The fertile stems of the horsetails are shooting up now.

horsetail, fertile stems

Near the horsetails I came across a clump of arum, or cuckoo-pint of the form with dark spotted leaves.

arum with spotted leaves

At the top of the undesirable finds was a rash of tiny two-leaved seedlings, they were seedling Himalayan balsam, almost makes me want a short sharp frost to thin them out.

Himalayan balsam seedling

During the afternoon I was working near the Lapwing hide and came across my first adder of the year, I know they have been out for ages, I just had not seen one myself. On my way back to the Centre I was passing the rather inappropriately named Clearwater Pond when I spotted a pair of mandarin ducks and digi-binned this very iffy picture to prove it.

mandarin pair

Just before I left I was locking up the Tern hide and saw a green sandpiper on the shore just below the hide, the first I have seen on the south side of the lake for ages.