Tuesday, 24 May 2011

A Big Yellow Headache

Rather little to report from the last two days. A flock of 17 dunlin on Ibsley Water first thing was certainly notable, but they did not stay long.

I have been planning how to tackle the ragwort growth, it is not going to be easy as it is further ahead than usual and so many areas cannot be done as there are still nesting birds. Of course there are those that say it should be left as a nectar source and it is true that is it a valuable nectar plant. However it is toxic to stock when dry, although they avoid it when growing as a rule. We have to try and stop it spreading onto our neighbours land and it can also become very dominant on the dry disturbed soils around the old gravel pits, which is undesirable for other reasons. The history of the site and the long-lived seed bank mean we will never do more than reduce it. Our aim is to produce a lower denser sward, which is better for nesting waders and feeding wildfowl and is harder for ragwort seedlings to establish in, but it will take many years of work. We have already made some progress on the western shore of Ibsley Water, which was chest high with brilliant yellow a couple of years ago.

Incidental to checking the shores of the lakes I retrieved the monitoring buoy from Ibsley Water, the high winds yesterday caused it to break free and it got washed up on the eastern shore, it was both larger and heavier than it looked! The great black-backed gulls will have to find another perch.

The good year for insects continues with another new for the reserve hoverfly yesterday, a bumblebee mimic, Criorhina berberina. The robberfly in the picture below was basking on the main gate as I went to lock up at the end of the day.

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