Thursday, 17 June 2010

A Raft, is a Raft, is a Raft

We still have three Little Ringed Plover chicks surviving and the weather still looks alright for the next few days at least. Overnight moth trapping did produce one new species in the form of a Clouded Buff, a heathland species that had probably wandered down from the New Forest. It regularly flies in the daylight and the only picture I could get was in the trap as it flew off almost immediately afterwards.
The big task of the morning was trying out some raft designs, you might think there would not be much choice, but if so you had not bargained on the ingenuity of the Blashford volunteers. The object was to come up with a frame design which will support a plastic pie filled with bottles, to provide floatation and infilled with coir fibre which will act as a planting medium for a range of marginal plants. There were not quite as many designs as people but it was a close run thing, there was the "Tortilla Chip".Some favoured a less angular approach and so the "Oval" was born, although the lack of a food based name may count against this one.
There was also the simple approach a square grid, the "Battenberg".
Another circular design based on an asterisk shaped frame produced the "Pizza", seen here with the filling as well.
Of course we had to check if the raft would actually float so we carried two completed ones to water, luckily they did.
The raft frame is made of recycled plastic lumber, made from old plastic bottles and other plastic waste collected by recycling schemes in Britain. It should be durable and rigid enough that they will not get pulled apart when anchored on a windy lake. They will be planted up with plants collected from around the shore of the lake, so we can avoid introducing any more alien plants. The project is aimed at reducing nutrients in the lake which can lead to unwanted algal blooms, the rafts should also provide nesting sites for birds like Great Crested Grebe and Coot as well as cover for fish and invertebrates.
In the afternoon we had a Dragonfly Walk, thanks to the sunshine we did pretty well, seeing ten species of dragon and damselflies. These included at least 3 Scarce Chaser, including a pair mating at the Ivy south hide. A particularly fine male Emperor dragonfly perched low down beside the path was also highlight as was the sight of the dragonflies greatest enemy in the shape of two hunting Hobbies.

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