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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Giving the Birds a Platform

I was back at Blashford again today to try to get the long awaited osprey nesting platform put up. I arrived a bit early so had a quick look along the Rockford path, looking over Rockford Lake there were very few birds, but the few there were included 2 black-necked grebe. Looking the other way over Ivy Lake the sight, and sound, was spectacular, the top of the lake was alive with displaying teal, several hundred of them. One of their North American cousins, a green-winged teal was reported at the weekend, but not since and I could not find it today. The smew also seems to have either gone or be hiding, although one was reported at Longham Lakes the other day so perhaps it has just moved. A quick look in the Ivy North hide resulted in views of the bittern fishing and I got a quick picture.

bittern

bittern

Then it was off to see if we could get the osprey pole up in the very strong wind, first we had to get all the materials to the site.

collecting the materials together

collecting the materials together

The hole was dug and then we started to put the platform together.

putting together

putting together

Then it was time to add the base of the nest, made of heather and hazel branches, with a long oak that will make a useful perch.

The basic nest attached and ready to go

The basic nest attached and ready to go

The next job was to get the pole upright and the hole back-filled.

upright?

upright?

We are now going to leave it to settle in before completing the nest-building in a few weeks time.

On my way back I dropped in to Bickerley Common, just south of Ringwood, there was no sign of the great white egret, but there were 2 ruff which, if I can add up correctly takes me to 122 species of birds for 2013.