Friday, 27 May 2011

All go at Feckenham

I've been away for a while in sunny North Yorkshire but now I'm back I thought I'd tell you how the reserve is getting on now that we're approaching early summer. 

Yellow rattle
The meadows are looking particularly good with masses of new flora. The yellow rattle (or hay rattle) is abundant and in flower underneath the tall meadow buttercups that are covering the grassy parts of the meadows. The common vetch is starting to show and this also looks like it will be another excellent year. There are also signs that the meadow vetchling is going to be more widesprad than in previous years; all good stuff for various butterflies that like these to feed and lay eggs on them. So far we have not seen any blues but the wind has been quite strong and this is keeping most of the butterflies grounded. 

southern marsh orchid
The ragged robin is more widespread than in previous years and in greater concentrations. This is no doubt down to the cattle grazing which we also think has contributed to the discovery of a rogue southern marsh orchid which has appeared on it's own in the dryer cowslip patch at the southern end of the reserve. We have SMOs in other wetter parts of the reserve but this is the first in this particular meadow - we believe possibly brought across the reserve by the cattle. The leaf damage on this one is down to cattle grazing in the early stages.

Beautiful demoiselle
I've started to carry out the dragonfly and damselfly recording and so far numbers are encouraging. An early, newly emerged beautiful demoiselle was flying around the western edge just inside the reeds. This splendid agrion's habitat should be fast flowing gravel bottomed streams so as we don't have one of these anywhere near the reserve we can only assume that they are in fact emerging from one of our pools. There are a significant number of large red, azure and blue-tailed damselflies about, many in tandem, and I did find a fresh new female broad-bodied chaser in the grass by one of the ponds. She soon warmed up and was away with a male and immediately after flying in tandem was laying in the same pond. 

Our sedge warblers are very active and in good numbers; this one was singing during the afternoon from a high perch. Reed warblers have also nested and are now busy feeding.
By the way, the orange tip caterpillar is now quite large and is happily munching it's way though the seed pods of the same lady's smock plant that the eggs were laid on. The second caterpillar is not evident and so I guess that this one had it for a snack at some point. 

No quiz this time as I am still waiting for the last one to be solved.
Paul, Feckenham Wylde Moor

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Hunthouse dormice

We've found a dormouse in one of the tubes we put up at Hunthouse in an old coppiced area of woodland. It was a very sleepy yet healthy looking adult male of 19g weight. Nick Benbow (the reserve manager) was glad to have it confirmed that dormice are still present at Hunthouse.

We now will be monitoring the population pre- and post-breeding to get an idea of the number offspring produced - this can be compared with other sites or over the years at this site.  With a tube survey it is only possible to get an index of population abundance in the area relative to other National Dormouse Monitoring Programme sites. It is most likely that many dormice are making use of the numerous crevices and holes in the trees for nesting - hence the number we find in the tubes represents a minimum estimate of dormice in the woodland.

Elizabeth, Dormouse Volunteer

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Photos speak louder than words

The weather is so good and things are moving so fast - there are more new arrivals to photograph so here are a few and not so many words!  

Our orange tip eggs are hatching and I managed to find this minute caterpillar about to eat it's way into a ladies smock seed pod. 

Our resident coots have had two chicks but as you can see they won't be winning the best looking baby competion! 

These ' Rhagio scolopacea' are getting it together on a gate post and our first small coppers arrived two weeks ago. 

The ragged robin is starting to flower and I hope this is going to give us a really good show this year. Large red and azure damselflies (pic shows a female azure) are about in good numbers, some already in tandem and the first male broad bodied chaser arrived on April 27th. This was of course the answer to the last quiz question albeit it was a female not male. 

male broad bodied chaser
female broad bodied chaser (last quiz)
female azure damselfly
It's a good time to go to the reserve to observe and take photographs. Please note that the reed bed is not accessable from the Alders hide through to the southern end stile. This is to protect nesting birds etc. but you can see plenty around the rest of the site. 
Here is a new quiz pic. for you. No clues on this as it is really easy!

Paul, Feckenham Wylde Moor