Although it was bright and sunny for a good bit of the time there was a constant threat of rain in the air and a wind that must have been gale force at times, so it was not a classic mid-summer day at Farlington Marshes. I checked all the cattle quite quickly so had a look at some of the fields to try to decide when to move the cattle between the fields. The field behind the Building is looking very bright now, being full of buttercups, so far it has not been grazed this year but I decided to open it up for the fifteen that have been in West Mudlands for the last month to give them some fresh grass.
As often happens on sunny but windy days there were great concentrations of insects to be found in sunny spots where there was shelter from the wind. The hoverfly Tropidia scita is a common species of marshy ground, but this was the first time I had seen a lot of them flying this year.
A number of other commoner species were also out in good numbers.
I came across the huge cranefly Tipula maxima, which as well as being very big indeed also has wonderfully patterned wings.
It is good to know what I am looking at but inevitably most of what I find is firmly in the “unidentified” camp. The bets I can do with this micro moth is that it is a Tortrix moth of some kind, I suspect with work I can get it to species but I have not done so yet, if you do know I would be delighted to hear from you.
Then there are things like beetles where my skills end at “A beetle of some sort”! Again if anyone can help…..
Many people who visit the reserve will know that brown-tail moths can be very abundant at times on the brambles, this year they seem to be rather few in number. The over-wintering caterpillars gather together in a silken tent but when they grow larger in spring they spread out and grow one on their own. I found this large caterpillar, probably fully fed and shortly going to pupate.
I went over to look at our neighbouring reserve at Southmoor, just to the east along the northern shore of the Harbour, some of the site is SSSI, but one field, a former playing field, is not and we have been working to try to see if we can manage it to make the grassland more like that found at Farlington. We have been grazing cattle there for some years and the ones there this year are looking very good.
At first the field had been ungrazed for years and was characterised by very coarse grass and thistles with a deep thatch of dead grass, it is much better now and looking quite promising in some areas. Some years I experimented with a couple of areas where I had the topsoil scraped away and these are now getting colonised by plants like marsh foxtail grass and others. Most exciting I found a plant of sea clover there today, this is a very rare plant in Hampshire and is only regularly found on Farlington Marshes, I think this is the first record from Southmoor.
Back at Farlington in the afternoon I made another, less interesting discovery, this was a group of adder’s tongue near the Double Ponds in the Bushes, I have never seen it there before and will have to find out if anyone else has.
I also found some scarlet pimpernel, obviously not at all rare, but the flower in close up is about more than just scarlet.
I have already mentioned the very strong wind today, it actually made it very hard work to walk along the south wall, but these are winds that can bring in migrating insects and when I got how eat the end of the day I found both red admiral and painted lady butterflies on the flowers in my front garden, both classic migrants.
Perhaps there will be a lot more to come if the predicted southerly winds come to pass later next week.