Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Mysterious Wildlife

My first day in after a short break and we were doing a waterbird count of all the lakes this morning, all in all a bit grim in drizzle and then rain. The upshot was that lots of the wildfowl have left the lakes, which I had already guessed from the partial counts I had done earlier in the month, but you can never be certain that they have not moved to other lakes. Some will have gone into the Avon Valley onto floods, but many will have started back east and north now that the weather has got milder.

The mild conditions are good for moths though and last night saw a few more new for the year with a couple of small brindled beauty, both rather dark ones, the feathered antennae of the male is used to detect the female pheromones. This is another species with flightless females, like many of the winter flying species.
There was also a pale brindled beauty, 2 chestnut and a dotted chestnut. This last species is quite local and is one of a few species that have poorly understood life cycles. The larvae have rarely been found in the wild and there has been a long suggested association with ants, but this has not been confirmed with certainty. A number of species of insects have found ways to gain protection from ants, ranging from butterflies, especially blues, moths and hoverflies. It is interesting to know that there are species that, although uncommon, I see every year that are still not at all well known, proof that you do not need to travel to distant parts to find mysteries. This moth is at least well named as it does have lots of dots.
The wildfowl count did not result in any large numbers, but there were a few interesting birds. The 2 black-necked grebe were on Ibsley Water from the Goosander hide, the young drake smew was on Ivy Lake near the Ivy North hide, where I also saw a bittern, evidently one of two seen today. On the shore of Rockford Lake 2 green sandpiper were the first I had seen for a while, other waders were a single black-tailed godwit and the pair of oystercatcher.

Lastly, as I was leaving there was a splendid sunset, which actually got better after I took the shot below as I went to lock up the gate to the main car park.
A better day forecast for tomorrow, but as it is Thursday perhaps I should expect it. I plan to clear some of the debris on the shore of Ibsley Water to make it more suitable for the little ringed plover, which may well be with us by this time next week, as might the first sand martin.

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