Off with their heads! (the prelude)

Southmoor Thistles

Southmoor thistles

This year seems to be a particularly bad year (or good year depending on how you look at it) for thistle growth. Although these large spikies are rich in colourful flowers and nectar they are prolific in taking over a grassland. Creeping and Spear are the two species of thistle we are most concerned with on our grasslands. In places like Hookheath we also have Marsh thistle but this tends to be far less invasive so needs next to no control.

We control thistles across the Solent reserves by removing the flower heads ideally just before they start to go to seed, that way nectar drinking invertebrates can have their fill. Over the last year or two the tractor and topper hasn’t ventured over to Southmoor from Farlington. Today I was investigating whether or not it was worth the stress of driving the tractor and big trailing topper across the busy roads of Farlington and Havant. Unfortunately it is looking like the grassland could certainly benefit from a cut so I shall venture out there on Thursday.

Emperor Dragonfly

Emperor Dragonfly

While I was there I checked in on the cows and stumbled across this male Emperor dragonfly. I also got a good look at some Small skipper butterflies and contemplated if they were Essex skippers. They look near identical apart from Essex skippers look like the tips of their antennae have been dipped in black ink. Perhaps I’ll write a more indepth blog on it if I ever get some conclusive proof of seeing Essex rather than Small. Unfortunately all the skippers I saw today were Small rather than Essex.

Essex or Small.........hmmmn.

Essex or Small………hmmmn.

Just before lunch I headed to Farlington. After doing a few odd jobs I had lunch sitting looking out over the stream by the building. Busy feeding in the water in front of me were 49 Godwits, most still sporting their stunning brick red breeding plumage. 2 Bearded tits pinged around in the reed bed next to me while a Little grebe with her 3 chicks were diving for their lunch in the stream.

A close Black-tailed godwit

A close Black-tailed godwit on the stream

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