Summer is here

I’ve not posted in a little while. A mixture of being very busy, very relaxed (on holiday) and more recently very hot. Working in thirty degree heat over the last couple of days has been somewhat taxing.

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It is starting to happen though. Invertebrate life is springing into action all over our reserves and as things quieten down with the bird life, we stop looking up and start staring intently into the long grass.  That isn’t to say that there aren’t any decent birds around.

Farlington Marshes nature reserve has had the usual, a mob of black-tailed godwits chattering away by the building or on the deeps. They were joined the other week by a stunning male ruff, in full breeding plumage. this chap has been frequenting various sites around the Solent for a few weeks now. There have also been a lot of bearded tits showing off in the reed bed.

The meadow browns have emerged en mass across most of our sites. Swanwick and Hookheath in particular. We have also seen silver washed fritillaries, white admirals and marbled whites, with at least one purple emperor reported as well.

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Swanwick Lakes nature reserve has also had its fair share of dragons. A walk through on Friday afternoon saw Emperor, black-tailed skimmer, red-eyed damselfly, golden-ringed, common blue, blue-tailed and small red damselfly. There have also been downy emeralds seen regularly, but not by me, despite a lot of trying.

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The orchids this year have been exceptional. North-east meadow at Swanwick Lakes nature reserve has had the most ever, as has Hookheath. Farlington has had a very good year, with common spotted and southern marsh orchids filling the top of the hay field and pyramidal orchids scattered along the path.

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All in all its been a good, yet warm, couple of weeks – and over the next couple, we should see a bigger emergence of species like marbled whites, gatekeepers and a few more silver washed.

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The Flax and the Toadflax

Once again it was volunteer Tuesday at Farlington Marshes and we were catching up with various odd jobs, mostly around thistle spudding and ragwort digging, but also including trimming around the entrance gates, clearing sluices and doing the butterfly transects.

thistle spudding

thistle spudding

There was also a group from Portsmouth Grammar School on site and I had to let them in through the height barrier and as I waited I had a look at the patch of disturbed grass by the entrance, it has a varied flora to say the least. I got a few pictures of some of them. Pale flax is one that is commonest on bare ground near the sea, but you will not see it on the reserve proper.

pale flax

pale flax

Others are plants of bare ground all over the place, although not many patches have quite such a range of species.

purple toadflax

purple toadflax

long-headed poppy

long-headed poppy

As is often the way they include some that seem to have got out of gardens as I think this allium must have.

Allium

Allium

There are also some plants that have probably been brought in, possibly with imported soil.

scabious

scabious

There were even a couple of bee orchid, although these do seem to pop up in all sorts of odd places.

bee orchid

bee orchid

This was not the only orchid I came across today, when we were ragwort digging in the Bushes we found a pyramidal orchid just coming into flower.

pyramidal orchid

pyramidal orchid