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.

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