The day actually started on a high as I pulled in to the main car park to be greeted by the sight of a male stonechat on the car park bank, a rare bird indeed at Blashford and only my second record and the first for the BTO Challenge. A second notable sighting was of 3 mandarin duck on Ivy Lake, one of which was a drake just acquiring his finery.
The night was mild and there was a good range of moths, although no new species for the year, although the caddisfly in the picture was a rather fine creature, it is a shame I cannot identify them.
When I picked up the trap there were two beetles under it, one a ground beetle with fine sculptured back and fused elytra. I looked it up later and it seems to be Cychrus caraboides a species that feeds on snails and has a rather elongated head the better to prize them out of their shells.
The second beetle was also not a typical species as it did not have long elytra covering the abdomen. Like the ground beetle it had the large jaws of a predator, it also objected to me taking a picture of it and adopted a threat posture with tail raised and jaws open. It is a common species of rove beetle called a devil's coach horse.
At lunchtime I went to the Tern hide and was rewarded with great views of a common sandpiper, it was a juvenile, as can be told from the pale edges to the coverts producing bars along the closed wing.
The really keen might notice that this bird's tail is rather short for a common sandpiper and it is, but do not jump to any hasty conclusions, it had lost the central feather somehow, as was clear when I saw it preening. It also did a rather fine wing raise, which I managed to capture, it shows the underwing rather well.
As I was watching the sandpiper someone else in the hide spotted a fine sparrowhawk fly onto one of the posts near the hide. I was a little concerned as the sandpiper did not seem to have noticed it.
I decided to try and get a couple of the new rafts onto the water during the afternoon, although I was a little worried I would not get them down the path alongside Rockford Lake, in fact Jim seemed sure I would not. Actually it was fine and I managed to plant up two, mainly with Glyceria maxima or reed sweet-grass. Not my favourite plant as it has viciously serrated leaves from which I have got some fiendish cuts in the past. It does have the advantage of seeming to need a lot of phosphate and this is a key attribute for this project which is aimed at finding ways of reducing phosphate in the lake water.