Notes of April

Where does the time go? Three weeks have past and I haven’t found the time to put finger to key on these pages. Its been a busy time out on the reserves and to be honest the only interesting things I have seen have been while doing other things. These past three weeks have mostly been spent at Farlington, stuck firmly in fencing mode. But after another full on day with the Farlington Volunteers today, Im glad to say we have managed to get the whole place stockproof once again.

New fenceline in the aerial field

New fenceline in the aerial field

April is a fantastic month with lots of spring species either migrating back, popping up out of the ground or hatching. In between busying ourselves I did manage to note a few of these so I shall give a brief overview of April’s highlights;

For a week or so around the 5th a Juv Little gull frequented the south marsh, around the deeps and the willow pool.

Juv. Little gull - Deeps (5th April)

Juv. Little gull – Deeps (5th April)

Juv. Little gull - Deeps (5th April)

Juv. Little gull – Deeps (5th April)

Sandwich tern made a welcome return to the harbour also around the 5th with Common tern and Little tern arriving a week or so later.

Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Tern

Two Whimbrel were sighted off the point on the 5th as well as a male Wheatear on South marsh. A single Avocet on the 14th was unexpected as well as two adult Spoonbill. A Greenshank was noted on the lake and I even had a treat of seeing a Weasel!!- a first for me on the reserve.

Wheatear

Wheatear

Further into the month, on the 21st I saw my first Redstart of the year – a female on the fence lines at Southmoor. This area is a hotspot for passerines and I also noted Blackcap (male and female), Whitethroat, with Willow warbler and Chiffchaff in song.

As we approach the end of the month good numbers of swallows are now on the marsh, and can be seen collecting mud from the wet areas of north marsh, next to the track. Lapwing are now busy sitting on eggs with sightings of three chicks already! Another wheatear was noted today as well as a Lesser whitethroat in song right next to the hut.

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Saturday Notes

After a day off on Friday when I visited the Wildlife Trust’s reserve Noar Hill for the first time in years I was back at Farlington on Saturday. Incidentally Noar Hill had a magnificent display of cowslip, a good few early purple orchid and even one Duke of Burgundy fritillary, the last a bit of a surprise as it was cloudy. I also saw my first tree pipit of the year.

At Farlington on Saturday it was quiet for both birds and visitors, but warm enough for a god range of insects to be flying. Near the Deeps on the seawall there is a patch of crosswort, this plant incorporates crosses through out, with four-petalled cross-shaped flowers.

crosswort

crosswort

Even more striking is the arrangement of the leaves, which are in the form of  across, most obvious when viewed from above.

crossword leaves from above

crossword leaves from above

On the same part of the wall is a patch of white dead nettle, a very good nectar source for bumble-bees especially.

white dead nettle

white dead nettle

The warmth had brought out a lot of insects, most conspicuously St. Mark’s flies, the jet black males sit on vegetation or hang in the air, legs dangling.

St Mark's fly

St Mark’s fly

The are seeking females and have huge eyes that cover almost the whole of their head to aid their search.

Just south of the Deeps I found a reed warbler singing out in the open for a change.

reed warbler

reed warbler

The fly in the top of the picture is a male St. Mark’s fly.

In the Point Field a pair of meadow pipit were feeding young and I got  a quick picture of one of the adults. Meadow pipits mostly breed in the uplands of Britain, but will use damp grassland and heath in the lowlands too.

meadow pipit

meadow pipit

The main reason for going round the wall was to see how the lapwing are getting on, the answer was pretty well so far. There have been losses of clutches to predators certainly, but there are now at least four hatched broods around the reserve and a number of others should be getting close to hatching. I also think there are at least four pairs of redshank with territories on the reserve.

There have been good numbers of the larger hoverflies around for a while now, but the smaller species have been very thin on the ground, so it was good to see lots of one of the smallest. There are four species of Neoascia and they are very similar, all are very small indeed.

Neoascia on buttercup

Neoascia on buttercup

Apart from the regular breeding species birds  of note were rather few, a pair of raven on Main Marsh were a mixed blessing considering the lapwing hatchlings that are now out and about. Out in the Harbour the nesting gulls and terns provide a constant backdrop.

All the flowering plants are not as obvious as the buttercups, although not popular with hay-fever sufferers, the grasses and sedges are starting to flower and they are rather attractive when viewed close up.

sedge in flower

sedge in flower

 

First Chicks and Last Rafts

Two days in one again. Wednesday saw me in the office all morning, a bit strategic as it was raining for most of the time, but I did get down to Farlington in the afternoon to check the cattle and lapwing. I was pleased to see my first lapwing chicks of the year with broods near the Scrape and Deeps, both were only small so they have a long way to go. Several other pairs seem to have failed, but a good few are still sitting, so there may well be other chicks very soon.

Generally the reserve seemed quiet though with just a few swift, swallow and a couple of sand martin hawking for insects over the fields. When the sun came put there were a few insects including quite a number of hoverflies visiting buttercup flowers, these two seemed to getting on well.

Eristalinus sepulchralis

Eristalinus sepulchralis

There was also a Helophilus trivittatus, my first this year, this is the larger cousin of the common H. pendulus.

Helophilus trivittatus

Helophilus trivittatus

Looking out over the Harbour around high tide I did see a drake red-breasted merganser.

North-east Langstone Harbour

North-east Langstone Harbour

At the Lake a single greenshank and a grey plover were roosting and along the Stream 6 ringed plover, 7 dunlin and 2 common sandpiper.

Today I was at Blashford again to finish the task of putting gout the tern rafts and in rather better conditions than on Monday.

tern raft with terns

tern raft with terns

I eventually got all four out and three of them had common tern on when I left, although the other had black-headed gulls.

Ivy Lake

Ivy Lake