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.

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