Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Latest Score: Springwatch 1 - Blashford 3

We had been waiting and today it happened, the Little Ringed Plovers at the Tern hide started to hatch, by the end of the day three were out, although one still had down damp from the egg. The two older ones were already running around looking for all the world like cartoon versions of the adult bird. Somehow, although quite different they still capture the essence of Little Ringed Plover, just like a great cartoon image. One egg remains to hatch, so perhaps tomorrow morning there will be four, if they survive their first and probably most dangerous night. The road to fledging remains fraught with danger but at least they have hatched so it is a road they have at least started out on. As Springwatch has recorded, their plovers had three of their eggs taken by a Jackdaw, the life of a Little Ringed Plover parent is not without tragedy.

I spent most of the day accompanying a student looking into the biology of a mayfly that lives in the Dockens Water. I took the chance to do some insect survey along the stream. One of the first things I came across was a fine female Scarce Chaser dragonfly, the picture I got of it is rather better than the one I posted a couple of days ago!
As the sun came out so did the damselflies, at the southern end of the stream there are quite a few Banded Demoiselle, but go a little north where the stream is stonier and they are all Beautiful Demoiselle. The picture shows that although beautiful they are really killers, the big eyes see the prey, the long spine son the legs are used like a net and the jaws make short work of a range of small and not so small insects.
It was not all insects, I found a number of Broad-leaved Heleborine plants, not yet in flower but nor far off. Long sections of the banks, where the sun gets through are dominated by Water Forget-me-not, one of several species of these plants found on the reserve and by far the largest.
In the sunny patches along the path beside Ellingham Lake there were large numbers of bush cricket nymphs, mostly of Dark Bush Cricket but there were also several Speckled Bush Crickets, like the one below. They really are speckled and much easier to see as nymphs as the adults tend to climb up into the trees out of reach.
The flowers attract lots of insects and several beetle species are now coming to those of Dog Rose and the first of Bramble. One common species is Oedemera nobilis known very unofficially at Blashford, as the "Thigh Beetle", after the swollen hind legs of the male.
Thanks to those who have already given me plastic bottles (and tops), I still need them though, it seems the one litre size in most drinks is the best fit of all, but many up to about 1.5 litre are OK as well, so if you have any and are coming to see the plovers, there will be a bin outside the Centre for donations.


  1. Another very nice post. I'm staying down at Winkton for a few days at the weekend and hope to call in and have a look at the reserve. Have also heard the Oedemera nobilis beetle referred to as thick-legged and fat- kneed beetle by the way.

  2. Thanks for that Phil, always good know what people think of the posts. I always thought the beetle should have a "common" name, it is so distinctive and obvious at this time of year.