Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A Drab Day and Dormice Domiciles

A cold north-east wind still keeps the migrants away, although if there were any looking up Ibsley Water from the Tern hide is quite hard work. The water pipit was there again at both the start and finish of the day as were the pied wagtails. Otherwise walking round to open up was fairly quiet, the 2 smew were on Ivy lake from the Ivy North hide. I went round filling the bird feeders, saw few birds but did come across the bracket fungus pictured below growing from a smallish log lying on the ground.
The moth trap had few moths but a good range of species including one with possibly the most exciting name of any moth, the northern drab, or at least that is what I think it is. It does not quite look right for the almost as thrillingly named lead-coloured drab, but I could be wrong.
There were also a couple of clouded drab, these are very variable and colour is little guide to identity, but all are the same shape and size and somehow still manage to look "the same".
The closely related common Quaker also comes in a fair range of shades but is similarly still quiet distinctive for all that.
After a range of odd jobs, the main task of the afternoon was putting out twenty five dormouse tubes. If you have been following the blog you may remember we put up a number of dormouse boxes a while ago and these tubes are another way of trying to find out if we have dormice on site. They will use them as refuges and can be checked a couple of times a season for occupancy. We put these out in different areas from the boxes so as to cover more ground and to try areas that would not be thought of as quite such obvious dormouse habitat, but which still has the right sort of structure.
Several of the tubes were put in areas of low dense willow, either in the coppice or dead hedges which result from the cutting. These lack hazel, so nuts for food, but do have bramble and will have lots of insects and especially aphids, which are important foods for dormice. The willows are now coming into flower and in the brief spell of sunshine I saw a few bumble-bees visiting the flowers. There was also a blue tit eating the nectar and I have previously noticed a lot of the lesser redpoll with pollen around their beaks at this time of year as well, the energy rich nectar is valuable to a wide range of species, not just insects.
During the day a mealy redpoll was reported from the Woodland hide again and there were also something like 100 brambling there as well. In the afternoon the lesser spotted woodpecker was also seen there, I have still to catch up with this bird, still it does seem to be hanging around so hopefully I will see it eventually.
From Ivy North hide the smew were seen for most of the day and a bittern intermittently. When I locked up the bittern was standing in the reedmace, as I watched it a Cetti's warbler hopped up in the same view and a water rail was calling loudly. Going to wards the Ivy South hide a raven flew over "cronking" loudly and doing a couple of rolls.
Lastly at the Tern hide as well as seeing the water pipit again I had a short time to look at the gull roost. The black-headed gull are really building up now with at least 5000 roosting, by contrast lesser black-backed gull numbers have fallen to just a couple of hundred and were outnumbered by the herring gull, many of which arrived from the south today.

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