Tuesday, 29 December 2009

December update

I don't seem to have had time to update recently, something I promise to remedy in the New Year. Quite a bit has been going on at Blashford recently, the Ivy South hide is open and has a ramp for access, the camera equipment installation continues and work has started on the extension to the Sand Martin wall.

On the wildlife front there has been little new around, despite the colder than average weather, most disappointingly, so far at least, there has been no sign of a Bittern. This is not to say that there have not been birds worth seeing however. A run through of recent sighting is below, under the Cormorant picture, as you can see I have not just failed to update the blog, but also to take any pictures of note.
Goosander numbers have reached at least 71, roosting in the SE bay of Ibsley Water by the Goosander hide. The Bewick's Swans from Ibsley/Harbridge area have also been roosting on the lake with at least 18 birds seen on some days. The Great White Egret has been seen a little more frequently towards the end of the month and is now fairly regularly feeding on Rockford Lake. On Ivy Lake some 450 Teal are of note and a Green Sandpiper has been regular. The reeds in front of the Ivy North hide have Cetti's Warbler, several Water Rail and up to 5 Chiffchaffs.
At the Woodland hide and the feeders around the Centre area a few Siskin and up to 9 Lesser Redpoll have been seen and although there are good numbers of Chaffinch there do not seem to be any Brambling at present.
The gull roost on Ibsley Water is still large and attracting some 15 or so Yellow-legged Gulls, earlier in the month also 3 Mediterranean Gulls and at the end of the month an adult Caspian Gull. This last bird often seems to turn up in the early afternoon and stand on the island in the extreme NW corner of the lake.
I will make another update before the end of the year and try to be more regular with the info in 2010.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

A few changes and a bit of luck

The weather does not improve, frequent rain and wind, however we have been very lucky with tasks and activities. Thursday's volunteers managed to be out in a dry slot and on Wednesday the guided walk also passed off almost dry, the hides come in very useful at times!

There was little change in the birdlife during the week until Friday. On Friday when I opened up the Tern hide it was plain that there had been a small arrival of Goldeneye, with at least 4 drakes and 5 redheads (and this just on a quick look), also there were 9 Ruddy Ducks with 4 drakes and I know there have been at least 10 female/imms recently. There were also at least 60 Black-tailed Godwits no doubt attracted to the valley by the recently flooding.

At the Woodland hide and around the Centre the number of finches is slowly increasing, although still only 2 Brambling have been seen, but there are now 50 or so Chaffinches. Cetti's Warblers are still singing near the Ivy North hide and in the silt pond near the Ivy South hide. There are also at least 2 Chiffchaffs, mostly near the Ivy North hide.

After two days of being on the run in the reeds between Goosander and Lapwing hides I finally managed to get the two loose ponies back onto the Ibsley shore. There is also another Chiffchaff in this area, usually near Lapwing hide.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Today we counted the lakes, which is to say we counted all the waterbirds on all the lakes within the Blashford complex. I seriously doubted that we would be able to when I started, it was raining so hard that I could not even see across Ibsley Water. Luckily things improved and the totals at the end were rather more than I had expected. Looking out at Ibsley Water there do not appear to be that many birds about at present, but this is because they are well scattered around the lakes. A few of the total show that there were 1802 Coot and 572 Gadwall, the first is a species for which the lakes are nationally important (i.e. they hold over 1% of the UK population) and the second a species of international importance (over 1% of W. European population). In both cases the counts next month are quite likely to be somewhat higher, with Gadwall perhaps much higher, but we will see.

Other minor highlights were 10 Great Crested Grebes and 7 Little Grebe on Ellingham Lake, which rarely has even this many birds. There were also as many birds as I have seen in a while on Blashford Lake, but there was nobody sailing today, so this might account for this.

Away from the water 2 Brambling were reported from the Woodland hide and a Lesser Redpoll was at the feeder there once again. I saw a couple of Chiffchaffs on the path between Rockford and Ivy Lakes, they might be the same ones that are often seen near the Ivy North hide, or then again perhaps they are different. There was also a pair of Bullfinch there and a flock of some 35 Goldfinches, the last feeding on Ragwort seeds.

At the end of the day a scatter of Yellow-legged Gulls as usual on Ibsley Water, but I did not get the chance to check further as one of the ponies on the Mockbeggar shore has got out again and a quick bit of temporary fence was needed to ensure it does not get out onto the road overnight.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Ivy South hide revealed

The Ivy South hide, closed a fortnight ago to allow reconstruction is now once again open for business. There is still some work to be done putting in the new access ramp but there are temporary steps for now.
It has been quiet a big job. The old hide needed to be dismantled, great work by the Thursday volunteer team to get this all done on the first morning of closure. The next day the base structure had to be removed and the trees that had grown up around it had to be removed and the roots dug out. The site then looked as though a bomb had hit it and so it needed to be levelled ready for the new hide. I also cleared a couple of dead and dying alders that threatened to fall onto the new hide this should also result in an improved the view. A couple of these trees were felled int the water to provide Kingfisher perches. I don't know if they were checking things out, but there were two Kingfishers flitting about for much of the time we were working.
Last Monday the team from Gilleards arrived bright and early to start work. After a few anxious moments when it looked like we might not get the lorry all the way down to the build site. However by then end of the first day all the supporting structure was in place and by just after lunch on Tuesday the hide was built.

On Wednesday the digger returned to tidy up the path and clear the damage caused when we struggled to get the lorry to the site on Monday. This left the way clear for the return of the Thursday volunteer crew, there were six screens to construct, display boards to put up and a set of temporary steps to go in. By the middle of the afternoon this was one so just over a fortnight after we closed th eold hide the new one is up and running.

An access ramp will be constructed as soon as the materials arrive after which the path and area behind the hide will be made good, so the job will not be fully completed for a week or two yet and it wil be necessary to close again for perhaps a day or two.

Hopefully visitors will appreciate the new hide, it is a bit higher, longer and wider than the old one and clearing a few trees has considerably improved the view both to the left and right.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Sun, screens and the last dragonfly?

Work continues on the new Ivy South hide, the main construction was completed yesterday (Tuesday) and today we started on the screens and tidying up the path. All being well tomorrow we will complete the screens and put in some temporary steps to allow the hide to be used until the ramped access can be built.

We have been blessed with good weather ever since we started building on Monday, I just hope it lasts through tomorrow. The sunshine yesterday saw a few Red Admirals out and about (the one below was near the Woodland hide) and near the Centre a Common Darter dragonfly. My latest ever Common Darter was on the 18th November, so if the days continue frost free I might better that.
On Ibsley Water a party of 18 Pintail were seemingly newly arrived, they are certainly the first I have seen on the reserve for some time. There was also a Green Sandpiper and 2 Black-tailed Godwits in the morning, although both species were distant. The most obliging wader was the Snipe pictured below that was on the bank in front of the Tern hide.
A few other birds of note were about with a Brambling near the Centre and some Fieldfare overhead. There was also a Lesser Redpoll on the feeders at the Woodland hide. In the morning I heard calling Water Rails both at the Ivy North hide and in the silt pond near the Woodland hide. There were also Cetti's Warblers in both of these places.

Just off the reserve the family of three (2ads, 1 juv) Bewick's Swans remain in the field north of the road at Ibsley Bridge, these are the same birds that spent the day on Ibsley Water last week, no doubt resting after having newly flown in.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Another fine day, so fine that there were Red Admirals flying around once again. The flush of fungi continues, the picture shows a rather fine clump on a cut alder log near the Education Centre.

Gilliards arrived early to start putting up the new Ivy South hide and made good progress, completing the base supports by the end of the day. Getting the lorry carrying the new hide down to the site was a bit touch and go at times but luckily it was just possible to back all the way down the track.

Other news today included the first sighting this winter of a Brambling at the Woodland hide. Around lunchtime a Peregrine briefly chased the Lapwings and two Black-tailed Godwits over Ibsley Water, although it failed to catch anything.

In the morning I received a sad call to say that a large dog Otter had been killed on the road at Ibsley village on Saturday. This was almost certainly the one I saw from the Lapwing hide a month or so ago as this was only about 500m away and the territories of adult males cover large areas. The corpse was brought in for collection by the Environment Agency. The picture shows the animal's hind foot, with the webbing and large size very clear.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

After the storm Blashford has a butterfly day.

What a contrast today was, fine, sunny and with no more than a light breeze. Despite looking I failed to find anything blown in by yesterday's gales, despite 100 mph gusts very little seems to have been blown in anywhere along the south coast.

In fact it was so fine today there were Red Admirals flying about and even Common Darters in pairs egg-laying in pools near the Goosander hide.

Rockford Lake is still probably home to more wildfowl than any other, although Ivy Lake has the greatest number of Gadwall. However Rockford is holding most of the Mute Swans, including a few colour-ringed birds like the one in the picture. Most, or all have been ringed at the bottom end of the Avon Valley in Christchurch. I do not have the details of this bird but will post them when I do.
The recent rain combined with the still mild temperatures have resulted in a great flush of fungi all over the reserve. A range of the is shown below.

Other birds around the reserve today included 8 Ruddy Duck (including 3 drakes), 7 Goldeneye (including 2 drakes), a few Goosander, a Green Sandpiper and a Black-tailed Godwit, all on Ibsley Water. There was also a report of 2 Pink-footed Geese with the Greylags briefly on Ibsley Water in early afternoon. In the silt pond near the Woodland hide a singing Cetti's Warbler was good to hear and there was at least one Chiffchaff near the Ivy North hide.
At dusk the usual gull roost gathered on Ibsley Water, with at least 14 Yellow-legged Gulls amongst the thousands of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. There was also what was almost certainly a 1st winter Ring-billed Gull, probably the one seen about a week ago. That I could not be completely sure was due to seeing it only briefly in flight and losing sight of it when it pitched into the mass of gulls to the west of the Tern hide. It was not only the number of birds but also the fact that I was trying to look directly into the light which thwarted efforts to find the bird on the water.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Seeking hide and December in November

Blashford is somewhat in turmoil, the Ivy South hide has gone, demolished to make way for the new one and today the Woodland hide was out of action as we had to dig up the approach track. Even the Goosander hide was not immune as I felled the sallow and two birches there to allow space for the extension to the Sand Martin bank. However getting the activity over in a short burst should mean that things will be disrupted for the shortest time possible.

In a brief look at Ibsley Water first thing this morning I noted five redhead Goldeneye and two adult drakes, so there has obviously been a further arrival, I also saw that there were three Bewick's Swans recorded in the log book there on Tuesday. They were a family and echo a family with two juveniles at just about the same time last year.

A Fieldfare or two calling in the alders south of the Centre were the first I have had at Blashford this season, but otherwise work and increasingly terrible weather resulted in no other birds of note being seen, at least by me.

The moth trap was quite productive, with 14 Feathered Thorns and the first December Moths.

The rain might get the Sea Trout on the move, I often look for them at this time of year, but I suspect that when the Dockens Water is running high enough for then to pass up it is also too turbid for me to see them, still I will take a look tomorrow.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

A breath of (Northern) Winter

A much colder day today, a bit of a shock after the recent mild days. It was grey, damp and chilled by a moderate north wind. Despite the cool night there were moths in the trap including a Merveille du Jour, Feathered Thorn, Red-line and Yellow-line Quakers, one of the November Moth group of species and a Northern Winter Moth (pictured below). Winter Moths are unusual in that the females are flightless, with only vestigial wings. There are two species, the Winter Moth and the Northern Winter Moth, the former is the common one in Hampshire.

Winter Moths are important for woodland breeding birds, especially Blue and Great Tits which time their hatching to co inside with the abundance of Winter Moth caterpillars.

When I opened the Ivy North hide this morning there was a Water Rail and a Cetti's Warbler calling near the hide, I saw neither. Later on Rockford Lake a Green Sandpiper was feeding on the western shore. Otherwise it was a quiet day until the the hoards of gulls arrived to roost. These included a Mediterranean Gull, not the usual adult but a second winter, there was no sign of the Ring-billed Gull reported a couple of days ago, but it could easily have been there in the mass of birds. There were at least 10 Common Gulls, a notable increase and possibly due to the colder weather and north wind. As usual there were also a good few Yellow-legged Gulls, certainly more than ten, but these were only what could be seen at the southern end of the lake.

Starting work on site preparation for the new Ivy South hide tomorrow, the volunteers having made a great job of taking down the old one on Thursday.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Blashford Classics

Despite a seemingly unpromising night the moth trap contained a surprise this morning, in the shape of a Vestal, a moth that, despite small size, is a migrant. The depth of colour of this moth varies and is apparently associated with the temperature prevailing when the early stages are developing. The picture shows it sitting on the egg-boxes in the trap, not the best of backgrounds, but these moths fly in the day as well as at night so I dare not disturb it.
As well as the Vestal there was another insect with classical connections, there was also a large black beetle with horns, a Minotaur Beetle. This one of the dung beetles, in this case they specialise in feeding on Rabbit dung. These large beetles are believed to be very important food for larger bat species and their decline has been suggested as one reason for the reduction in bat numbers.
Although there were a fair few insects inside the trap I noticed there were none around it, which was unusual, even when the birds have been around the trap they seem to regularly miss some. However today's culprit was possibly not winged, behind the trap I found a Common Toad, no doubt on the trail of a last few meals before the winter.
As I opened up this morning there was a Water Rail outside the Ivy North hide as well as a Chiffchaff in the trees. There was also a cronking Raven flying over as well as two or more Redpolls, perhaps these will stay around with the flock of Siskins that is gathering to feed in the alders.

As I locked up the Tern hide a quick look at the gulls was rewarded with an adult Mediterranean Gull as well as at least 6 Yellow-legged Gulls.

Monday, 2 November 2009

A change of month and a change of weather

Saturday was a fine late October day, unfortunately I was working on Sunday and what a change! It rained hard from the early hours and continued into the morning. It was the first Sunday of the month so volunteer day, I was amazed that anyone turned up, in the event four people did and we walked the paths clearing fallen branches brought down by the gales that had accompanied the overnight rain.

Luckily the rain eased of and we actually had quite a pleasant walk in the end. The Dockens Water levels were rising fast, going up perhaps 20cm in the time it took to us clear the path eats of the bridge and down towards Rockford, no more than about half an hour.
The "chute" dug along the path and sometimes known as "Jess's Plunge Pool" was just starting to fill when we went past eastwards but was topped up by the time of our return. The picture below shows it complete with water and lots of twigs and leaves.
By the afternoon the sun actually came out and the wind dropped for a time, although it got up again later. I took the chance to walk up to the Lapwing hide and update the blackboard. There were 16 redhead Goosanders, most if not all young birds, hauled out on the spit between Tern and Goosander hides.
Towards dusk I took a look at the roosting gulls, many fewer than on Thursday, although I did not stay so late. There were at least 12 Yellow-legged Gulls though and the single drake Goldeneye was displaying noisily in front of the Tern hide, it seems rather early for such behaviour.
As I locked up the Ivy North hide a calling Cetti's Warbler and a Chiffchaff were a bonus, still no sign of any Bitterns though. If they ar etyo become really regular winterers I would expect the first birds to start turning up at about this time rather than just before Christmas as in the last two years. Of course there might be one hiding out there, they are not the easiest birds to see and there is one written in the hide log for last week, but I am a little suspicious as there have also been flamingo, eagle and dodos recorded recently!
Next week we start work on site preparation for the new Ivy South hide, the hide should be replaced by the end of the month.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

No moths, lots of gulls

I put the moth trap out before I left Blashford yesterday, however I failed to turn the timer on, so I arrived to find a moth trap but no moths. I really must remember that, energy saving though not turning the bulb on might be, it is not great for trapping moths!

As it was Thursday it was volunteer day, thirteen people today and we got a lot of the view of the silt pond beside the path to the Ivy South hide opened up. Hopefully this will allow the ducks that use the pond to see people walking along the path better and make them more likely to habituate to people being there. Soon we will be starting work in readiness for the replacement of the Ivy South hide, this will mean the hide will be out of action for a couple of weeks but after that there will be a new and hopefully much better view of the lake.

At the end of the day I tried to get a "count" of the gulls coming to roost on Ibsley Water. In the end I estimated about 11,000 large gulls, mostly Lesser Black-backed but including at least 18 Yellow-legged Gulls and a single Common Gull. To get a better estimate I really need to start earlier and count them as they arrive, flying in from the north after a day up on Salisbury Plain.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Long-lived moths and developing plans

I was actually not at Blashford for long today, as I went to a meeting at the Countryside Education Trust's Tree House at Beaulieu, a very fine building indeed. Back at Blashford in the afternoon I heard the Great White Egret had been seen near the Lapwing hide in the morning and that drake Goldeneye that I keep missing also, as well as the first Fieldfare of the autumn. At Blashford Fieldfares seem to be mostly autumn birds passing through with rather few in winter proper.

Sadly, even at Blashford I was stuck in the office for most of the time, but the moth trap did provide a diversion. The line-up included Large Yellow Underwing, a late Copper Underwing, a Brick, both Yellow-line and Red-line Quakers, a male Vapourer, a Herald and a dark-streaked micro moth called Acleris hastiana, both of the these last two species (pictured below) will over-winter as adult moths, hibernating in some sheltered spot. This means that they may live for six months or more in the adult state, it is perhaps not surprise that both are not obviously moth-like in appearance, especially when amongst leaves of tree bark, they do not want to look too much like food during the hungry winter months.

Plans for the replacement for the Ivy South hide progress as does the project to put in some wildlife cameras, all being well we should be starting work next month. In fact it is going to be a busy winter as we also hope to extend the Sand Martin bank as well and there is still all the usual winter work to be done.

I stayed a little later at the end of the day and took a look at the gulls coming in to roost on Ibsley Water (and still could not find the drake Goldeneye!). The gulls included at least five Yellow-legged Gulls (4 adults and a 2nd winter) and a single Common Gull. Common Gulls are actually not at all common at Blashford and are always worth noting.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Goldeneye, Goosander and the Great White

The day started grey but quite calm, then rapidly became wet and windy. I opened up the Tern hide to find even fewer Coots, probably well under two hundred now where there were over a thousand only three weeks ago. Still there were certainly four Goldeneye, all "redheads" (which is to say females of juveniles) and shortly after I arrived 12 Goosander flew out from the roost, these too were all "redheads". I also noticed the number of Ruddy Duck had increased with nine female types and one adult drake.

Moving across to the Centre I found a female Sparrowhawk in the car park standing on the back of a bewildered juvenile Woodpigeon. My arrival disturbed it and the hawk flew off. I thought the Woodpigeon would not survive but after a few minutes it too flew off.

The moth trap contained a small selection of species including a fine Merveille du Jour, Brick, Red-line Quaker, Sallow, Feathered Thorn and Common Marbled Carpet. Nothing unusual there, although the two Bricks were both unusually small specimens.

Despite the rain two volunteers turned up to help with the task in the morning. Actually this was ideal and it enabled us to do the clearance of the sightlines at the Ivy North hide. This means that if the Bitterns do return this winter, we will have a reasonable chance of seeing them. This task that would have been difficult to do with many more people as there is not much working room. One of the "problems" that have arisen with the success of the reserve is that we now have a large band of volunteer helpers , obviously this is not a problem as such, but sometimes finding a task that can occupy everybody without getting too dispersed can be a bit of a challenge. Some tasks can take twelve people with ease others only need two or three. Still a great problem to have and we always seem to find lots to do and I suspect will for along time to come.

While we were working a Cetti's Warbler gave a brief burst of song and when I returned in the afternoon I found the Great White Egret standing in the shallows in front of the hide. This was the first time I have seen it on Ivy Lake since it returned. It was also interesting to note that the colour-rings are much cleaner this season and it is quite easy to read the combination.

Lousy weather precluded any pictures today, I will try and get some for the next update, words alone can get a bit dull.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Bird counts and butterflies

Another clam cloudy day, at least at first, although the wind did pick up later. An early start as we were counting the lakes today. I started at the Lapwing hide, it was grey enough to be slightly drizzling but visibility was good enough. The 5 Dunlin were still out on the small islands in mid lake and I was able to confirm that there were actually 2 Goldeneye, both of them "redheads" and near the western shore. On last month's count there were over one thousand Coots on the lake, today barely 200. There are slowly increasing numbers of Pochard, although still only just over twenty but little change otherwise. The number of Little Grebe is still impressive with sixty four today.

When I got to count Rockford Lake I found where a lot of the Coot had gone, 721 on there today! also a Green Sandpiper and 148 Wigeon. Ivy Lake was also good with just under 200 Gadwall, 147 Coot, 58 Wigeon and a few diving ducks, not bad for quite a small lake. Whilst counting there I had the first Redpoll of the autumn flying over westwards. Otherwise the count was pretty uneventful apart from a Fallow buck on the foot path south of Snails Lane, nit a place I would have expected one, no doubt a young one driven off the Forest by the "Big Boys" now that the rut is started.

The moth trap was disappointing with fewer moths than I had expected, although a Green-brindled Crescent was new for the year. The sunshine later in the day did bring out a few Common Darter dragonflies and butterflies. We saw Comma, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell sunning themselves on the Centre roof at lunchtime. We also had a juvenile Hobby dive at something by the pond and go away low over the roof, a grandstand view and a very close pass. It or another was near the Lapwing hide earlier, where there was also a Red Admiral.

At the end of the day I did not need to get away quiet so quickly as usual so took the chance to look at the gathering gull roost. When I did leave at 17:55 there were already over three thousand Lesser Black-backed Gulls as well as a thousand or more Black-headed Gulls. Also present were 3 Common Gulls, which are actually far from common at Blashford and at least 4 Yellow-legged Gulls.

Not in again until Monday, the whole weekend off, luxury!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Lesser pecker, Cricket Teal and an awayday

On Wednesday (yesterday) I was not at Blashford, the Lower Test based volunteer team came down to work at Holmsley Gravel Pit, a small reserve on the edge of the New Forest. In recent years it has become dominated by the small, invasive alien waterweed Crassula helmsii, originally from the Antipodes it was imported for use in garden ponds, I have no idea why as it is hardly a beautiful plant. It promptly got out, or more likely was thrown away when people found it was small, boring and spread everywhere to the detriment of more interesting plants. It then spread like mad filling shallow ponds all over the place with a smothering mat of bright green. At Holmsley we have tried almost everything to get rid of it, digging it up, spraying, covering with sheeting and dousing with liquid nitrogen. None of this has had more than passing success. In the picture below all the bright green grass-like stuff is Crassula so you can see the scale of the problem.
The purpose to the task was only partly to do with this plant though, there were also a good few willows to cut down, the low water level allows access to parts of the bank usually cut off, so it was a good time to get this done.
Before the start of work a quick look at the birds was quite productive with 99 Teal, a Little Egret and a Green Sandpiper. There were also a few Swallows flying over.
Today I was back at Blashford, the day was overcast and calm, a quick look at Ibsley Water as I opened up revealed 4 Dunlin and a Green Sandpiper with a calling Curlew circling overhead. As I opened the Ivy North hide I noticed something in one of the willows and it turned out to be a candidate for "Bird of the day" a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, it is over a year since I have seen one on the reserve, let's hope it stays around. There were also several Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests. Near the Ivy South hide a singing Cetti's Warbler was also good and a new loction on the reserve. The first stage of the day was rounded off with a number of fly-over Song Thrush and Redwing.
There were eighteen species of moths in the trap including 2 Cypress Carpets, one of which is pictured, not very well as the light was terrible!

The Thursday volunteer crew were working on site this morning and we finished clearing the huge fallen willow to the west of the Ivy North hide, this has opened up a very large space at the back of the reeds, hopefully these will grow into the new open ground now that the light has been let back in. The sightlines from the hide were cleared a bit and the hide cleaned inside and out.

I was on my own at lunchtime today so I visited the Tern hide with my sandwiches, the Dunlin numbers had grown slightly to five, there were 2 Black-tailed Godwits and most notably a Goldeneye, the first of the autumn. I also made a quick visit to Ibsley North pit were there was also Black-tailed Godwit and more notably a juvenile Garganey (another candidate for "BotD" and also known as a Cricket Teal after their call).

Tomorrow we are doing our monthly count of the lakes so I should get a much better idea of what is about and where. Coot numbers on Ibsley Water have dropped a lot, but they may have just move dot other lakes, we shall see.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

A Marvellous Blashford day

Another classic autumn morning, When I opened up Tern hide Ibsley Water was calm, the air was cold and a shallow mist hung over the water. I could not see that much, but through the murk there was one sight of note, a pair of Shelduck, although they flew off southwards shortly after.

The trees around the Centre and Ivy Lake hides were still well supplied with Goldcrests, but the number of Chiffchaff seems to have dropped. Despite this there were at least three or four with two of them singing. A flock of Blue Tits by the Ivy North hide were feeding in the sallow next to the hide, looking at them pecking at the undersides of the leaves I could see they were picking off aphids, small prey but obviously worth the effort.

Three volunteers came in during the morning and we cleared a fallen willow near the Ivy North hide, as a result quite a large area has opened up in the back of the reedbed, hopefully the reeds will spread into the space. Looking under a lump of wood in this area revealed a newt, the Smooth Newt is very common at Blashford outnumbering Palmate Newts by about ten to one, at least in the area near the Centre.
Although the night was quite cold there were seven species of moths in the trap including a Flounced Chestnut, the first of the autumn and a very fine Merveille du Jour, one of my favourite moths. The pattern and colours are quite spectacular and only shared by the not very closely related Scarce Merveille du Jour, which flies much earlier in the year.
My afternoon was spent in a meeting but at the end as I walked out of the building a Redwing flew low overhead, only the second of the autumn.

Monday, 12 October 2009

The value of weed

After yesterday's excitement there was no sign of either the Long-billed Dowitcher or the Ring-billed Gull today. Even the two Little Stints reported seem to have transformed into two Dunlin and these along with three Green Sandpipers were all the waders I could find on Ibsley Water when I opened up the Tern hide this morning. I did hear that the Great White Egret was seen near the Lapwing hide early on, but flew off as usual.
Even the moth trap provided thin pickings with just the first Yellow-line Quaker of the autumn and the rather fine caddisfly pictured below.
The lakes at Blashford are mostly very clear and water weeds grow very well in them. This is good for birds and water companies as clear water is what they both want. The birds want the weed and the invertebrates that live on it. The two most "important" bird species at Blashford are Coot and Gadwall and both feed on water weeds. At the moment Ibsley Water has huge rafts of floating weed and lots of Coots feeding on it. In places it is so dense that the herons have been standing on it even though the water is three or four metres deep.
We often hear about the problems caused by alien water weeds, clogging canals and generally out competing native species, they are basically viewed as bad news and something to be got rid of. However the Coot and Gadwall at Blashford are almost exclusively eating and alien water weed, one of the Elodea pondweeds often known as "Canadian pond weed". In this case the nationally and internationally important populations need the alien plant. Incidentally the "importance" is defined as a percentage of the population. So for Coot we have over 1% of the UK population and for Gadwall we have over 1% of the W. European population.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Long-billed, Ring-billed and Blashford bound

A quite remarkable day, although it was not obvious that anything of interest was going to happen when I first arrived on site. Ibsley Water was covered in Coots on a grey morning, the most notable thing was the first Redwing of the autumn flying over.
I was occupied all morning discussing possible camera set-ups for Blashford and later the idea of setting up a platform for Ospreys. Fortunately there were others looking at the wildlife and reports came in of a second winter Ring-billed Gull being seen on Ibsley Water and a Long-billed Dowitcher just off the reserve on Ibsley North lake. The gull seemed to have flown off, but I did go up to see the dowitcher. Both of these birds come from North America and are "megas" at least at Blashford. A dowitcher is a wader of similar size and bill type to a snipe, unfortunately during the time I saw it rest was top of the agenda and the bill was only shown once and briefly.

The picture is of the dowitcher in typical pose, complete with picturesque brick!

I never did see the Ring-billed Gull nor the Little Stint also reported, indeed the stint later became two, however the best I could do was a single Dunlin, strangely nobody else reported that. At least one Hobby was also still around, although I saw no dragonflies and precious few swallows or martins today for it to hunt.

It is not often that North American birds make it to Hampshire and when they do it is usually to the coast so two species at Blashford in the one day was a bit special. Probably the most Americans to fly in to Blashford on one day since the USAF over sixty years ago when what is now Ibsley Water was Ibsley airfield.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Noisy Cetti's on a quiet day

The few waders that have been hanging around on Ibsley Water seem to have all deserted us, I could find only Lapwings on Friday morning. Pochard numbers have crept up to ten but little else seems to have changed on the water in the last few days.

I was up near the Lapwing hide to fix a gateway before the rain came and was rewarded with a singing Cetti's Warbler and in the willows at least three Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap. I also noticed that the logbook in the hide records 13 Goosander for the previous evening.

At the north end of Ivy Lake 10 Shoveler, 43 Gadwall and 35 Tufted Duck were near the hide. I am planning to deal with a couple of fallen willows on the lake shore here next week so their peace will be temporarily shattered.

In the moth trap a Blair's Shoulder Knot was the first of the autumn. As a primarily garden species thanks to the main food plant being Leylandii cypress I am a little surprised that I catch them so regularly at Blashford.

There was a little overhead migration during the day with small numbers of Swallows, Linnets and Skylarks. It turned out that there had been a large movement of birds along the coast though. The Avon, despite being orientated N/S does not seem to be a major channel for most migrants. We clearly get some waders and other waterbirds and hirundines, but most small migrants obviously do not use it as a route.

One item of late news from Thursday was a report of a Hen Harrier from Ibsley Water in the afternoon as yet I don't know who saw it or what plumage it was in. Still two species of harriers in the last few days cannot be bad, even if I saw neither of them!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

The feel of Autumn with a touch of Summer

A much better day today, although autumn has definitely arrived, the morning was cool, even cold, but clear and fine, with a light northerly wind. Before I had even got to Tern hide to open up a saw a Peregrine stooping over the southern end of Ibsley Water, it missed and powered off westwards. Almost immediately it flew into and caught a Woodpigeon and carried off.

From the Tern hide I saw a Common Sandpiper and a juvenile Ringed Plover, probably the birds from the last few days, there was no sign of the Ruff though. Near the north shore a groups of about 100 hirundines turned out to be Swallows, a close look revealed at least one Sand Martin with them but no sign of any House Martins, although there were some feeding over the trees later. So despite feeling like autumn some of summer remains.

By the Ivy North hide several Chiffchaffs were with a mixed tit flock that also included several Goldcrests, the first real influx of the autumn. From the hide I saw perhaps the most surprising bird of the morning, a Reed Warbler, the last one I saw at Blashford was about a month ago. Later in the morning a juvenile Hobby was hunting over the store as we were putting the tools away after the volunteer task. Two more Hobbies were reported from near the Lapwing hide as well.

The task today was trimming back the paths and clearing around the Woodland hide, during what was a very sunny morning six species of butterflies were seen, these were: Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Copper, Speckled Wood, Peacock and Small White.

At various times during the day small parties of Siskin were passing over, mostly only heard bu the few I saw were going west. I also heard Skylarks a couple of times, on one occasion I saw the birds and these were going east. Skylarks are only recorded flying over at Blashford, I am sure that they would have nested in the grassland by Ibsley Water in the past, but they seem scarce generally in the Avon Valley nowadays.

A brief visit to the Ivy South hide in the afternoon brought another surprise, one of the stick rafts outside the hide had a Green Sandpiper roosting on it. This gave an opportunity for a picture.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Another Ruff day and late Martins

The day started alright, cloudy and dry, although much cooler than I had expected. On Ibsley Water the imm. female Ruff was still present as were both the juv. Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper. Just after eight o'clock some 200 hundred or more Greylags flew off SW from Mockbeggar Lake, leaving their roost for the valley.

Opening up the Ivy hides I noticed a steady passage of small groups of Siskin going west in small groups. There were also several small parties of Swallows (of which more later). For the first time this week I managed to get down to the Ivy South hide without flushing any the ducks off the silt pond, especially good as they included three Wigeon.

In late morning the rain came, it was not as heavy as we were lead to expect but still persistent and generally made things grim. I had a guided walk in the afternoon, in the event we just visited the Tern, Ivy North and Woodland hides. The theme was "The Last of Summer" and Ibsley Water delivered. The rain had brought down good numbers of hirundines with some 200 Swallows (later rising to at least 400), House Martins (perhaps 100 by closing time) and, best of all, at least 2 Sand Martins. It is getting late for Sand Martins and these may well be my last for the year.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Crazy Horse Day

Today started as a quiet sort of a day, mild, overcast and with light winds, no great excitement expected. OK so there was the triathlon event on neighbouring Ellingham Lake with the usual random overspill of parking along the verges etc and it was the first Sunday of the month so the monthly volunteer task was on in the morning.

As I opened up Tern hide there was a distant Common Sandpiper and out on one of the islands the juvenile female Ruff was still walking about feeding, it has been here for over a week now. I say female, it is certainly the size of a typical female, but recent research has shown that a few males are small and look like females, this allowing them to outwit the "kings of the lek" and mate with females on the sly.

The volunteers arrived, a good turnout of six people today, we cleared overhanging trees around the meadow area due to be rabbit fenced later in the autumn, better to get the trees down first than have them fall on the new fence.

As they were leaving at lunchtime a visitor reported six Garganey on the edge of Rockford Lake, so I thought I would check them out before having a sandwich. Sadly no Garganey but great views of an adult and juvenile Hobby catching dragonflies just overhead. Then things went off the rails a bit, I got a call from the owner of the ponies grazing Ibsley Water to say he had come to collect one and could I bring him a key, fine I could do that. Then a couple of minutes later another, two ponies had cut away from the others and crossed a ditch and were in the reed and willow area between Goosander and Lapwing hide. All thoughts of lunch were gone and it was off to get the quad bike and go and find the wayward animals.

At first and indeed for a while I could not find them, various visitors had seen them going this way and that, but I could not find them anywhere. Eventually I found a path beaten through the reeds and following it found the ponies near the fence, a start at least. Now all I had to do was get them across the fence. I had brought some tools with me, just in case, so I could take down the wire, but I did not want the animals to spook and run off. As I was doing this I heard a calling Cetti's Warbler near the Lapwing hide,my first of the autumn there (although two singing birds had been reported a few days ago), there was also a Small Copper butterfly basking on the short grass. Luckily the ponies owners appeared and between us we were able to get the wire down and keep the animals from making a dash for it, then it was through the fence and order was, more or less restored.
It was then back to the quad bike and time to replace the various Hampshire gates I had taken down in the hope of getting the ponies through. Still, a bonus was yet another brilliant view of a juvenile Hobby catching a dragonfly low over the pond behind Lapwing hide.

Eventually, at 3:20pm I got back to the centre for a sandwich and a cup of tea. I also looked through the moth trap, which contained rather few moths, although two very different Common Marbled Carpets were of interest. The smartest insect was probably the caddisfly in the picture, I'm not sure of the species.
At the end of the day, a look at Ibsley Water revealed things much as at the start, the Ruff was strolling around on one of the islands and a couple of Ruddy Ducks were preening amongst the Coots, so things ended much as they had started, they just went a bit mad in the middle.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

September bows out (gently)

A very quiet day in every respect, no wind, no sun (well almost none) and I had to look hard to find much in the way of wildlife. That said there was some, a Common Sandpiper and a juvenile Ringed Plover on Ibsley Water as I opened up suggested a slight movement of birds. During the day the Great White Egret was seen a couple of times either on Mockbeggar or on the pond near Lapwing hide, although not by me. A Hobby, or more probably two were hunting over the trees near the centre and over Ivy Lake, meaning that I saw at least one nice bird even though I was routing a new waymarker, mind you this was exciting stuff compared to the morning spent planning next years budget!

The moth trap contained few moths of note but there were some smart caddis flies, although I cannot identify them. There was also a Capsid bug, possibly of the genus Orthotylus, I have tried to ID it but confess I have failed. No doubt it is a common species but I do not remember seeing it before.

My home moth trap did rather better with one new species for this year, an Orange Sallow, not a rare species, but like all the various sallow moths quiet an attractive one.

According to the forecast a cold front approaches so perhaps a change in the weather will liven things up.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The day started so foggy that I could hardly even see Ibsley Water when I opened up the Tern hide. Mind you a look later in the day, in bright sunshine, showed that I had not missed much, all the regular birds were there but no sign of anything new, typical of a fine sunny day really, nothing to bring any passing birds down.

The task for the day was to get in the tern rafts from Ivy Lake for the winter, to this end we had an extra volunteer day and so there were six of us, just right for the task. I like to get the rafts in for the winter as it allows the shells to be removed and get washed off by the weather and prevents the Cormorants from roosting on them and leaving the results of their fishing trips.

All four rafts were brought in, some had quite a growth of vegetation considering what would seem a poor growing medium. One also had two dead terns, I expected them to be unfledged chicks, but they were an adult and a fully winged juvenile. It was not clear what they had died of, both had been partially eaten, but that could have been after death. I would not expect adults to be taken by many predators and to find two birds on the same raft seems especially odd.

Although I was out in the boat so missed it, the wildlife highlight of the morning was a large Adder found under a spare raft top on the bank. Adders occur quiet widely on the reserve but are only relatively easy to see in one or two places.
En route to our raft retrieval task we passed Rockford Lake, where there were 8 Egyptian Geese and a Green Sandpiper. It says something about the day that these were the birds of the day.

In the absence of birds I had to fall back on inverts, a large, long-legged spider in the toilets proved to be a male Pholcus phalangioides a species that lives almost exclusively in buildings and caves.Crossing the lichen heath there were several newly emerged Brown Argus butterflies, but they were very active in the sunshine and I could not get a picture, still they are smart little creatures and they have obviously produced a good late brood, so perhaps I will get a chance in the coming days.

The moth trap produced fourteen species including some velvety Black Rustics and some very bright Pink-barred Sallow.

Perhaps a change in the weather later in the week will produce something, who knows maybe the Sandhill Crane, now reported to be on the move from Orkney, will decide to fly down the Avon valley on the way south.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Red Underwing, red fungus and something that went splash in the lake

It is a while since I have done an update, since the last we have had National Moth Night and day and there have been a few interesting sightings to report.
National Moth Night was on Friday 18th and twenty people attended. Five traps were run and several trees were "sugared". Conditions seemed ideal, calm, cloudy and quite warm, the moths were not spectacular but at least there were some. The object was to look for migrants and we did catch a few Rush Veneer moths but few other obvious migrants. I say this because a number of our regular resident species are boosted in numbers by arrivals form the continent.

The trapping was quite successful but the sugaring was not so good, we saw only one moth, a Copper Underwing, but at least that stayed for a long time. The mix was newly made by boiling up black treacle, dark brown sugar thinned with a little beer to stop it becoming toffee. I have used this mix in lots of places over the years, usually with only slight success, apart from when I ran a site in Sussex, when it was always successful and often spectacularly so. I have no idea why Sussex moths responded so much better than Hampshire ones, but that is just the way it was.

The following morning I opened up the traps for ten people and we found a few more species than the night before. Unfortunately the most spectacular was a Red Underwing that was on the outside of the center building and flew away before anyone had arrived, typical!
Although it has been dry it is still autumn and so the time for fungi, although not that many have been in evidence so far. One that has is the pixies favourite, the Fly Agaric, the one in the picture was in a group growing at the southern end of the Rockford path.
On Friday 25th we did our September wildfowl count, anyone who has been at Blashford recently will know what I mean if I say it was more accurately a Coot count as this was far and away the main species with 1773, of which over a thousand were on Ibsley Water. Also of note were 65 Little Grebes there, although this was surely not all of them as they are more or less impossible to count accurately. The Great White Egret was on the old silt pond beside the path behind the Lapwing hide, as it often is early in the morning. However none of these were the highlight of the count, this accolade went to an Otter, which swam along the eastern shore of Ibsley Water. I was in Lapwing hide as it came level with the hide, at first close in then porpoising out in deep water before returning and coming up the bank and past the hide, just to the north. A magical experience, good views for perhaps two or three minutes eventually passing within thirty metres of us. There were pictures taken, although not by me, I will put some up if I can complete negotiations.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Boats, Deadmen and Gothic overtones

Wednesday saw the Lower Test volunteer team clearing the large island in Ibsley Water, keeping it clear makes it suitable for roosting ducks and waders as well as nesting birds. Last winter there were sometimes over two thousand Black-tailed Godwits roosting on this island. The nearby banks of the lake were also cleared of taller growth making them better for grazing wildfowl such as Wigeon, Coot and, inevitably geese.

Today the regular Blashford volunteer team were working to clear willows that have invaded one of the few reedbed areas on the reserve. The idea is to see if clearing the willows will allow the reed to spread back. Some of the old rotted logs had growths of deadman's finger fungi, not a rare species but not typically found growing on willows. The blackish growths do have a passing resemblance to a finger and the larger ones are much the same size and shape.

As well as fungi there are other signs of autumn approaching, two of the typical autumn moths turned up in the moth trap. Below is the Frosted Orange, quite a few autumn species are red, yellow or orange, bright colours for such defenseless creatures, but presumably camouflaged amongst autumn leaves. A second autumn moth is the finely patterned Feathered Gothic. The feathering is on the antennae of the males, the one in the picture is a female so does not have the "feathers".There have also been a few birds about, there has been a Wood Sandpiper on Ibsley Water on both of the last two mornings along with Green and Common Sandpipers. Today there was also a Greenshank, two Dunlin and an Osprey seen high over the Education Centre. A few Yellow Wagtails have been seen and heard on both days.

Friday of next week is National Moth Night, we are hosting an event at Blashford in the evening with traps, sugaring and more. You can book a place by phoning the Centre. Tomorrow I am going to cook up the sugaring brew using black treacle, molasses sugar and beer, so if you are at Blashford expect a whiff of toffee in the air.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

A bird on the hide....

A good start to the day yesterday, when I arrived to open up the Tern hide there was a Wheatear on the roof. It was quite approachable and allowed a few pictures to be taken one of which is below. Wheatears are scarce but regular in both spring and autumn at Blashford, although this year seems to have been much poorer for them than last.
It is always good to see a Wheatear, they are very neat birds, but they are also conspicuous and so easy to spot, they also indicate a movement of small birds has occurred over-night and so alerts you to the possibility of other migrants. As it turned out other migrants seemed to be rather few, just a scattering of Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps.

The most obvious migrants in the last few days have been martins, especially Sand Martins, over Ibsley Water, with well over one thousand birds at times, rather fewer House Martins and very few Swallows. All these hirundines have attracted several Hobbies, although I have only seen them succeeding in catching dragonflies.

Although this is a good time for wader passage there have been very few of late. On Saturday there were only single Common Sandpiper, Dunlin and a reported Little Ringed Plover.

A few wildfowl are starting to arrive with single Wigeon, Teal and Ruddy Duck and a few Shoveler all on Ibsley Water.

After a rather protracted break I will try and post regularly again, with most of the autumn still to go there will hopefully be lots to report.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Terns, gulls, and Hare's feet

The Common Tern chicks from Ivy Lake are getting more adventurous, several are now to be seen perched on the posts outside the Tern hide. With their brown mottled backs they are very different from the adults in plumage. With luck these will return in two years to breed and do so for many years after. I think we may need to provide more rafts if the recent level of success is maintained.
The terns are not the only youngsters about, there are lots of juvenile Black-headed Gulls, in plumage they are very similarly patterned to the juvenile Common Terns.The day was not all about birds on Ibsley Water, a branch had partly torn away from a willow near the Ivy North hide and blocked the path. I knew it had been quite windy but I had not realised just how strong it had been. As well as the branch another casualty was the Great Crested Grebe nest near the Ivy South hide, all three eggs could still be seen on the swamped nest platform, but they were partly in the water and obviously abandoned.

The gloom lifted and the sun came out, luckily just as I finished cutting up the fallen branch. With the sun out came the insects, on the edge of the lichen heath several Six-spot Burnet Moths were flying about, along with Meadow Brown and Small Skipper butterflies.
A few hoverflies such as this Episyrphus balteatus, also known as the Marmalade Hoverfly were about. This species is mostly a migrant arriving from early spring, sometimes in huge swarms.
The lichen heath being dry and sandy has some similarity to the coast and several of the plants found there are more typical of areas like sand dunes. The Hare's-foot Clover is one of these, named for the downy flower heads it is just one of a whole host of plants in the pea family that thrive on the poor dry soils at Blashford.
The only other event of note has been the arrival of ponies on the reserve, somewhat later than usual and so far only three. I will try and move them to the eastern shore of Ibsley Water before too long so they can graze some of the longer grass in front of the Lapwing hide.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Season on the wing

The advancing season is evident at Blashford in several ways, the geese on Ibsley Water are starting to fly again after completing their moult, the Lapwings have either given up or finish breeding for the year and the Darter dragonflies are out and about.

This Common Darter was basking on the picnic tables behind the Education Centre when I was having lunch on Thursday.

Another less welcome sign of the season's movement is the sight of the vivid yellow flowers of Ragwort. Although I say less welcome, this is only because of the management work that having it growing so prolifically on site involves. The flowers are a great nectar source and in an ideal world it would be welcome for the huge numbers of insects it attracts. Unfortunately, as many will know, it is also toxic to livestock, although they rarely eat it if there is other food available unless it gets mixed with hay. Ragwort is a very conspicuous and contentious feature of the post mid-summer scene.

It is particularly hated by keepers of horses and these are many around the fringes of the New Forest and towns throughout the country. Many of the reserve's neighbours are horse keepers and whatever the case for Ragwort as a valuable nectar source good neighbourliness demands that we do undertake control on the reserve. This is especially difficult as we cannot clear it until the nesting Lapwings have finished and we cannot use chemical control. This leaves us with control by hand in a short time-slot in late June and early July if we are to get it before it starts to seed.

Traditionally the plants are pulled up by hand, but this is problematic at Blashford because the dry sandy soils mean that a large bare patch result from this technique, ideal for new Ragwort seedlings to establish. It has been found that cutting below the lowest leaf usually kills the plant and does not break the ground and this is how we control it on the reserve. Our biggest problem areas are around the shores of Ibsley Water and here we are controlling this plant and a number of other large "weeds" with the aim of producing a short grass sward suitable fro grazing wildfowl in the winter. This has the advantage of producing a useful habitat and a tight sward is much more difficult for Ragwort to seed into, so we should have less work to do in the future. However the site history of soil disturbance and the longevity of the seeds may mean it is my successors that see the reduction in this particular work-load.

So the volunteer task on Thursday was Ragwort control, never the most popular of tasks, the one compensation was that it involves going to a part to the reserve that we usually only see from a distance. The view below is one the average visitor will never see as it is from an inaccessible part of the site. Perhaps surprisingly there are several parts of the reserve that even I hardly ever visit, leaving them as undisturbed as possible unless there is a job to do.

Bird nest update

The Little Ringed Plover chicks continue to grow well as does at least one of the Lapwings chicks, both to be seen from the Tern hide.

The Common terns on Ivy Lake continue to do well with more reaching the flying stage each day and the first being seen away fro this lake as they get more accomplished at flying. I am fairly confident that about 30 will ultimately fledge this season, a real bumper crop.

Monday, 6 July 2009

An emperor for lunch

A day of occasional showers, warm sun, patchy cloud and a good breeze meant that insects were out and about but not always very active. At lunchtime the Emperor dragonfly below was basking in an attempt to warm up in the, at best, patchy sunshine.
It is a really fine male, all black and blue, it remained on this mullein stem for over twenty minutes and allowed me to get right in close for a picture. It might have hatched from the pond at the centre, this is the most common large dragonfly to hatch out from there and there can be twenty or more exuvae clinging to the stems of the reeds around the pond.

Nesting bird update:
All four Little Ringed Plover chicks are still surviving in front of the Tern hide, but the Lapwings seem to have lost two of their chicks. The Oystercatcher chick is well grown now and almost as large as the parent birds.
On Ivy Lake the Common Terns continue to do well, with more flying, although two had dropped into the lake and will be at risk if they do not get out of the water. Both were being regularly fed by their parents and hopefully will get back onto a raft. The small raft by the south hide has a sitting Great Crested Grebe, certainly sitting on at least two eggs.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Blashford abuzz

Friday at Blashford Lakes was hot, not always sunny, but very warm, ideal for insects. Fittingly the day resulted in several species being recorded for the first time this year and one completely new site record. New for this year were Roesel's Bush Cricket (heard buzzing away around Ibsley Water particularly near the Lapwing hide), Gatekeeper (although I suspect there have been a few out before now) and the fine Silver-washed Fritillary pictured below.
The new species for the reserve was on the same flowers at the same time and was a Broad-bordered Bee Hawk Moth. Quite a scarce species, the larvae feed on honeysuckle and the adult hovers at flowers int he same way as Hummingbird Hawk Moths. It is not a great picture, but it was pretty fast moving. Perhaps because the wings are so hard to see, being fast moving and transparent, they always give me the impression of small frantic cuddly toy, certainly unmoth-like moths at any rate.

The four Little Ringed Plover chicks were all still running around by the Tern hide during the day, although I did not see any at the end of the day, hopefully they were just hiding. At least two of the Lapwing chicks are still present as is the, now half grown, Oystercatcher chick. A not great picture of one of the Little Ringed Plovers and mum is below. Although they are very close there always seems to be some vegetation in the way!
Meanwhile on Ivy Lake more of the tern chicks have flown, possibly as many as ten now and still lots more chicks growing. Both Coot and Great Crested Grebe are on nests on stick rafts in front of the Ivy South hide, so hopefully there will be more to report for some time yet.