Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Aliens, Bees and Carp

No pictures tonight as I left the camera somewhere, hopefully in the dry, time will tell. The ongoing removal of carp from Mockbeggar Lake continued today and still it seems to be just as easy to catch fish. They all continue to be around 4kg or so, not large, but that is due to the high numbers making food hard to come by.

Between showers this morning we were removing ragwort from the shore of Mockbeggar Lake, a massive task and a never ending one. After lunch I went to do a site check in advance of a volunteer task removing another troublesome weed, although this one is an alien, Himalayan balsam. Although there is still a good bit about I do get the impression that we are starting to reduce it quite significantly, certainly it is much less common along the upper Dockens Water on the reserve this year, perhaps we are winning.

Later I was looking at an area on the shore of Ivy Lake where I have suspected that another invasive alien plant, Crassula helmsii, has been spreading from seed. This is interesting because it is not supposed to set seed in Britain. In fact I was not alone as I have a placement student working with me this month and he is going to set up an experiment that might actually prove if it really does set seed. Incidentally we came across a patch of needle spike-rush, a decidedly rare plant, even if not a spectacular one. It has been found nearby before, but this site was in an area cleared of trees two years ago, as it likes open areas on lake shores it must have spread in by seed since the clearance.

On the subject of the honey bees on the seat I have had a number of suggestions, but those from bee-keepers, who should know, all seem to be more or less the same. The site was used by a swarm recently and the pheromones from the queen remain, probably especially underneath the seat, where most of the bees are. This scent will attract drones, male bees on the look out for an unmated queen and workers who might have been with the swarm but lost contact and got left behind. Incidentally a swarm was seen about 250m away at the end of last week so perhaps they are still wandering in search of a nest site.

Birds were rather few today, a single black-tailed godwit on Ibsley Water being about the most notable. From yesterday two pair of pochard were of interest as was a lesser spotted woodpecker, very briefly, in an oak tree beside the car park at the Centre.

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