In Deep, A Dialogue with a Darter

I have spent much of the last two days running around between the sites shifting materials and sorting stuff for later work. However I have had the chance to do a bit of real survey work, or at least assist a bit with some. Yesterday Ben came over to Swanwick to do another pond survey, these are aimed at establishing the health of a sample of ponds in an area in an attempt to establish the state of our ponds. It is being run in three parts of the country as “PondNet” and one of these is South Hampshire. The idea is to collect a sample in a comparable way from each site, so the method of taking the sample, the time it is collected for and the habitats that are sampled are all decided to a protocol. Mind you it still involves someone putting on some waders and getting into the pond with a net and in this case that was Ben.

Ben doing pond survey

Ben doing pond survey

I did get to help out with some of the sorting of the sample though, this is the time-consuming part, just a few minutes sampling took something like two days to sort (he was still sifting the sample this afternoon). There were loads of lesser water boatmen and hog lice and a fair few leeches, worms, and mayfly larvae. For me the highlight was finding a few water spiders.

water spider

water spider

These live in a little “diving bell” and can keep a silvery layer of air around their bodies when underwater, they are covered in very fine hairs that trap the air layer, the abdomen is especially velvety.

It was fairly warm and there were a good few dragonflies about and at lunchtime this common darter came and perched beside me, I took a number of close up pictures of it.

common darter "So what do you want to talk about?"

common darter “So what do you want to talk about?”

It also seemed like a good listener too.

common darter, in listening mode

common darter, in listening mode

And I suspect might even have dispensed good advice too.

giving sage advice

giving sage advice

Unfortunately I suspect it only knew about how to catch midges and seek out other common darter.

It was even warmer today and at Swanwick again I saw a clouded yellow on New Hill and a male broad-bodied chaser still out at the pond near the north-east entrance. Also in the North-east Meadow, we saw a young redstart, a good site record, it was just a migrant passing through but in time this area of wood pasture habitat might become suitable as a breeding site.

I was also at Farlington for a short while today and managed to get the butterfly transects done, I saw no butterflies of note but was pleased to see that the Old Pond still has a good colony of small red-eyed damselfly. A quick look at the wader roost on the Lake at high tide revealed no surprises, but 94 grey plover, mostly more or less in breeding plumage was a good sight.



4 thoughts on “In Deep, A Dialogue with a Darter

    • Sorry, the Old Pond is the one very close to the seawall about half way between the western entrance and the Lake. I think I amy need to add an extra map of just the Bushes area as there are lots of names used there, too many to put on the main map.

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