Sunday, 23 May 2010

Buzzing Blashford

With the temperature today reaching 24 or more degrees summer seems to arrived. Certainly a lot of birds are now at the point where their broods are leaving the nest, Great Tits especially are fledging all over the place. Our Great Spotted Woodpeckers on the screen in the lobby still have a little way to go, but the ones in the birch near the first car park are now almost ready to fly. The picture shows the female. The heat has also brought out the Grass Snakes, the one in the picture was crossing the track next to the woodpecker nest and I jumped out of the car and managed to snap it before it got over the bank.
The most obvious effect of the higher temperatures is on the insects, they need the warmth to get active and over the last few days they have certainly responded. Damselflies have been hatching in numbers, around the Ivy South hide there are exuvae all over the trees out in the lake and even on the sides of the hide, the picture is of one on the hide door.
Today I saw Common Blue Damsels in quantity, as well as a range of other species including Azure, Blue-tailed, Large Red-eyed, Large Red and Beautiful Demoiselle. I only saw two dragonfly species though, these being a single Hairy and a few Downy Emeralds.

A lot of other insects were also in evidence including my first Common Blue of the year and there are still quite a few Peacocks and Brimstones around, these are really getting on now, they might almost ten months old now. Hoverflies are also increasing after a dip in numbers with the unseasonal frosts we had a couple of weeks ago. the picture is of one of the larger species, Eristalis horticola, this is also one that will hibernate as an adult in a similar way to some of our butterflies.
Over many years I have tried to look at a different group of creatures each year, it certainly won't make me an expert but it does make for a passing idea of the commoner species. My one requirement has been that here is a good identification guide. I have long wanted to try some beetles and the arrival of a new edition of the Ground Beetles of Britain and Ireland in 2007 from Royal Entomological Society gave a chance to have a go at these often large and interesting beetles. On Friday I had a look for some species in an area of wet woodland and one of the species I found is in the picture below, I think it is Elaphrus riparius.
Birds were few today, the only "new" one being a drake Teal which appeared on Ibsley Water, where the duck Pintail and 5 Wigeon are still present. On Ivy Lake several of the Common Tern are now sitting and I think there are probably seventeen pairs using the rafts. The Mute Swan pair still have their three cygnets but I could not see the Little Grebe family today.
Best bird of the day was a singing Whitethroat, ok not a rarity and common enough generally, but this was my first ever singing one at Blashford and my first this year on the reserve, they usually only get seen in the autumn.

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