Monday, 7 June 2010

Mulleins, a Marvel and a Mullet Hawk

So far so good for most of the nesting birds, the three Lapwing chicks survived another night, as did the sitting Oystercatcher and Little Ringed Plover. When I opened up the Tern hide I saw the Greylag family in the picture below, perhaps surprisingly they are one of the threats to the Little Ringed Plovers. The family wander about on the shore and their big feet are at real risk of crushing a nest of eggs, they also take more or less not notice of being chased or distracted from their course by agitated plovers.
As I left the hide I noticed a tattered Mullein plant and on the leaves several brightly coloured caterpillars of the Mullein Moth. They are distasteful to birds so have no fear of sitting in the open. As always seems to be the case the several caterpillars were of sizes ranging from quite small to almost full grown, I have never known why this should be, possibly they are the result of several layings.
Another good haul in the moth trap overnight included a Miller and a Scarce Merveille du Jour, pictured below. This is a species of ancient woodland and exists at Blashford thanks to the woodland corridor along the Dockens Water. Although not as spectacular as the rather similar Merveille du Jour, which flies in the autumn, it is very distinctive.
Also in the trap was the rather fine Caddisfly below, it was a real whopper as well as being rather well marked.
When I went to lock up at the end of the day I was told of various interesting bird sightings, the Osprey had been seen again and the Black Swans, which were there first thing, were still present. The pair of Shelduck, still with two ducklings, had also been seen, although one had been grabbed by a Great Crested Grebe at one stage, apparently a typical underwater attack, but fought off by the adult Shelducks. They had also just seen a Hobby catch a Sand Martin in front of the hide, so all in all they had a good afternoon.
Note: Mullet Hawk was an old name for the Osprey, particularly suited to them on the south coast where this fish seems to be one of the main prey items.

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