Friday, 1 May 2009

Groundhopper Day

Not to be confused with Groundhog Day, today saw more moves into spring at Blashford. Although breezy there were lots of damselflies about in sheltered spots with Large Red, Azure and the first Blue-tailed of the year. The last species, although the first I have seen had obviously been out for a day or two as it was fully coloured. There were also several Downy Emerald Dragonflies about, particularly near the Centre.

Other signs of the season moving on were screaming groups of Swifts and three pairs of Common Terns settling in on the rafts on Ivy Lake. not all signs of winter have gone though, at the feeders by the Woodland hide there are still Siskins and at least one Redpoll. On Iblsey Water there is still one Wigeon and the lagging pair of Pintail were also reported.

One group of insects that over-winters as an adult or late instar nymph are the Groundhoppers. These are close relatives of the grasshoppers, which all overwinter as eggs. The on the stones near the Woodland hide I found this Slender Groundhopper at lunchtime today. There are three species in the UK and all are very small. Although I have said this one is a Slender Groundhopper, looking at the picture I now see it has rather wavy edges to the femurs on the middle legs, so it might actually be the rarer Cepero's Groundhopper. The two species are very hard to tell apart, in fact you almost wonder how anyone noticed the difference in the first place!

Still they are very smart little insects and they also show great variation in pattern and colour, they are also very easy to overlook, most wildlife watchers have never seen one even though they will have nearly stepped on thousands.

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