Wednesday, 15 June 2011


After seeing the first of the flying black-headed gull chicks yesterday, there were several today. From the Ivy South hide the tern rafts are still busy with adults bringing in fish for their broods. There is one adult which seems to wait until it sees an incoming bird with a fish and then tries to steal the food, I have seen this sort of behaviour, known as cleptoparasitism, before although not at Blashford. The hurly burly of raft life does cause problems and today one chick had managed to end up in the water, they swim well, but this bird is too young to fly back onto the raft. This happens to a few each year just at the point where they can almost fly and so spend time jumping and flapping, they can either get blown off the raft or bumped. I have some floating pallets to act as refuges, but the chick has to find them. If they do, they usually fly within a day or so and can then get back to the raft.

Today was damp and hectic, the drizzle at first, rather than giving way to sunny spells, gave way to continuous light rain. It was hectic because there was further carp removal going on, part of the ongoing project to reduce the excessive numbers in Mockbeggar Lake, although this only took a little of my time. We also had the Lower Test volunteer team working to cut ragwort off the northern shore of Mockbeggar Lake, there was so much that pulling was impractical. We also had a couple of volunteers from the Parish Council to help us pulling ragwort from the slightly less infested eastern bank, they stayed the course despite the worsening rain.

Otherwise I collected the trailer wheel and refitted it, sent off my article for the Echo and set up a test experiment to see if invasive alien plant Crassula helmsii will grow from seed, it is not supposed to in Britain, but I have my doubts.

Despite, or perhaps because of the poor weather, the moth trap was very busy, the low cloud overnight had kept it warm. Highlights were a beautiful golden Y (below), the splendidly named suspected (even further below) and several elephant hawk moths.

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