There are now two purple herons on the reserve. They put on a great show flying around over Denge Marsh and Hooker’s pits yesterday evening. Other sightings yesterday included hobby, four wood sandpipers, black-tailed godwit, cuckoo,whinchat and lesser whitehroat.
Archive for April, 2010
Numbers of roosting Whimbrel on the Quarry are low this year. It did seem possible that another site was being used on Harbour Farm by some birds. So this morning before sunrise all the pools were checked, but sadly no Whimbrel were found. The peak count this year has been 107 (very similar to last years), numbers have already started dropping and seem unlikely to rise again, 48 birds departed this morning. On a positive note 42 Avocet were found on one of the pools this morning and at least 450 Common Terns were roosting on the Quarry islands. 60 Swift and 20 House Martins were feeding above Long Pit. At Castle Water YESTERDAY a Bittern, Hobby and 15 House Martin gave great views from the viewpoint and 30 Hairy Hawker exuviae were collected from the ditch north of the hide 19 female and 11 male, small numbers of Azure Damselfly are also emerging.
Female pre-flight emergent Hairy Dragonfly yesterday at Castle Water
The Common Seal that has frequented the area recently gave great views along the river across from the Wader Pool Hide. In the second picture below you can see an orange tag on the hind flippers, I think that this individual was possibly released from Mallydams sometime ago.
A walk along the low water shore line at day break produced some interesting finds. A fine Tompot Blenny was stranded in a small pool, the small feathery tentacles around the nostrils and a larger pair on top of the head between the eyes help to id this fish. Also many Masked Crabs (pictured below) were creeping around the shore line, the oval shape of the carapace with four teeth on each side and the extremely long antennae are distinctive features, males can be seperated from females by the long first walking legs. Avian highlights included 2 Arctic and 5 Little Tern roosting on the low water sand and 3 Arctic Skua were chasing and successfully robbing Sandwich Terns offshore.
Tompot Blenny along the shore this morning
Blackthorn or Sloe (Prunus spinosa) is an important nectar source for many spring insects at the moments and today I spent a couple of hours investigating a particularly fine example at the northern end of Castle Water. The bulk of insect visitors today seemed to be the hoverfly Eristalinus aeneus (see Sam’s entry below), along with it’s close relatives the drone flies Eristalis pertinax and E. intricarius (a drone fly in name but actually a bumblebee mimic), and masses of solitary bees.
The Blackthorn bush at the northern end of Castle Water
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The most likely culprit for this handywork is the Great Spotted Woodpecker. It does look as if the woodpeckers are trying to create a totem pole. Although I can’t tell what it is yet.
This standing dead tree trunk shows why it is important not to over manage the woodland and cut down every dead tree. Dead trees like this are clearly made use of by birds and insects alike. It might not be aesthetically pleasing to us to see them as we walk by, but they are necessary evils. The Woodland Trust at Brede High Wood are aware of this and that is why they leave trees like this standing if they are not a danger. Once you come across a tree like this, it is always fun to take a look as you pass by to see if there are any woodpeckers on it. There is a sizeable mound of chippings on the ground in front of the tree. Enough for a few hamster cages perhaps.
The emerging Hairy Dragonfly population at Castle Water continues, the same two sides of the ditch that yielded the first exuviae yesterday was checked around mid day and 28 were found, 18 female and 10 male. A good selection of pre flight emergents were still present in the ditch, a male is pictured below just shortly before taking its maiden flight. A small group of Blue-tailed Damselfly were aslo found along the margins.
Male Hairy Dragonfly just before its maiden flight.
A purple heron was found on New Excavations about an hour ago (10.30am). Also of note so far today: spotted redshank, hobby, cuckoo, lesser whitethroat. Highlights over the weekend included a spoonbill that spent most of Friday and Saturday on Burrowes pit. The great white egret put in another appearance on Denge Marsh on Saturday and the bittern continued to boom at Hooker’s pits.
At least 800 Common Terns had roosted overnight on the quarry islands and in the dawn light the aerial display of so many terns gradually filtering away was spectacular, in addition 89 Whimbrel and 8 Bar-tailed Godwit left the roost. Sandwich Terns were also present in good numbers with at least 500 at Ternery Pool and 6 Little Terns were high flying above Shore Ridges. Later around mid morning 36 Avocet and Greenshank were present on Harbour Farm Pools and a Raven was lingering around Quarry Ridges and Harbour Farm.
Common Tern from the Denny Hide which over looks the Quarry
Highlights today have included Grasshopper Warbler in song on Harbour Farm and 14 Little Tern on the Quarry. At Castle Water Hairy Dragonfly have started to emerge from the ditch north of the hide 9 exuviae were found this morning all were female, sadly one emergent had picked a bad spot and the wings had not expanded correctly as shown in the picture below.