Thursday, 6 May 2010

A Leopard, a Saint and Lordly Trappings

Thursday once again so the volunteers were active on the reserve again today, clearing small trees from the heath, installing seating for the education area, making homes for House Martins, resiting a water butt, pulling nettles, fixing a barrier and putting in a ramp to the store - and they were only in for two hours! I did take a couple of pictures but, as is often the case, it looks like not much is going on and this is so far from the truth I decided it would be a misrepresentation to include them.

In moving the logs for the seating I uncovered a rather fine Leopard Slug, this was actually quite a small one, they can get to about 15-20cm long, but it is very well marked.
The moth trap would have been good if it had not been for a raid by a Great Tit which had reduced some species to just a few wings, including the year's first Poplar Hawk-moth. Another first was the pictured White Ermine moth, this is one of the "tiger moths" and has a hairy caterpillar of the woolly-bear type.
One of the other moths was this tiny Tortrix moth Cochylis atricapitana this is one of a lot of similar small moths that are camouflaged to look like a bird-dropping, on the basis that this is one thing a bird is unlikely to try and eat.
Other firsts in the trap were several Common Cockchafers and a St Mark's Fly, the males of these flies fly slowly about with legs dangling searching for a mate. Their huge (and hairy) eyes no doubt help them in this search and it is obviously fairly successful as they are always an abundant species at this time of the year.
Birds today were rather few, or at least birds of note were. A Common Sandpiper on Ibsley Water and the first taking to the water of the five Mute Swan cygnets hatched yesterday on the pond by the path to the Ivy South hide being the highlights.

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