Friday, 26 February 2010

Alien Lords and Scarlet Elves

We did our monthly wildfowl count today, I have not added up all the totals yet but it is clear that there are fewer ducks around than last month. A count of over 550 Wigeon on Ivy Lake was notable though. I also saw the Smew on Rockford Lake, as usual it was tucked in near the shore. I am now certain there are two birds as the Rockford one is much "cleaner" looking than the bird I saw with Goldeneye on Ibsley Water yesterday. Even more intriguingly there was a record of two seen on Ibsley Water on Wednesday written in the Lapwing hide logbook, so I wonder if there might even be three birds.

On the way back to the Centre I walked up the Ellingham path alongside the Dockens Water, the lower end where it has freedom to roam about in the wet woodland is looking quite different as the stream seems to be carving a new route through the trees, it now has three channels in places, it will be interesting to see which, if any, becomes the main one.
There are lots of bright green leaves of Lords and Ladies coming up now, also known as Cuckoo Pint it is one of the first plants to come up each spring despite the soft green leaves looking so tender.
Along the Ellingham path under the Lime trees there are also several plants of the garden relative of the Lords and Ladies, the Arum italicum known as Large Cuckoo Pint. This is one of a large number of introduced species that occur at Blashford, some like this are relatively harmless garden plants, possibly throw-outs, some were deliberately planted like the Rhododendron and others have gone wild, like the Himalayan Balsam. It is reckoned that aliens species are the biggest threats to biodiversity after climate change.
Near the Woodland hide the Scarlet Elf Cups are now showing, although this is about a month later than usual, this is one of the winter fungi and one of the brightest coloured of all our species.
To finish the day I went to the Goosander hide to count Goosander and saw at least 48 arriving to roost, I had to leave before they would all have arrive dbut there are clearly fewer than there were at the start of the month. I had hoped there might be a Smew with the goldeneye as they gathered to roost, but if there was I did not see it.
As I approached the hide I saw a movement away to the right, at first I thought it was a large dog or a deer, but it was only a Fox, albeit a very fine and bushy-tailed one. For a moment it looked much bigger than it actually was, something to do with the lack of anything to compare it with I suppose, but perhaps this is one way that "big cats" get seen, a brief view and circumstances when the true size of the animal cannot be properly gauged.

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