Tuesday, 12 July 2011

A vole in the hole is worth...

The Safari has been busy today. Nothing of note from Patch 1 this morning but Patch 2 gave us something to think about...one of a string of a dozen or so Manx Shearwaters was significantly smaller than the others and got our heart racing a bit. After not much else other than a single Gannet had gone past it was time to back inside and consult a field guide and a more knowledgeable friend. Our small shearwater was flying exactly the same as the others and so was unikely to be Little Shearwater which in the fairly calm conditions ought to have a more fluttery flight than the Manxies... :( It would have been unclaimable anyway as we didn't get much on it at the enormous range it was at.

Then it was off to join some Water Vole surveyors from the local Wildlife Trust at the site where we have just had our Grass Snake pond extended and deepened to incorporate a Water Vole pond too. Our thanks go to the Environment Agency for providing the men and machinery to do this work gratis...nice one guys!

What lovely south facing banks you have!!!
While the surveyors were getting started we had a mooch round the field on the far side of the dyke...and very interseting it was too.
One of a couple of Narrow Bordered 5-Spot Burnet moths

This was the other one - with a colour abnormality

It wasn't symmetrical either - this is its opposite side

We got 11 species of butterflies including our first Gatekeeper and second Small Copper of the year but only this female Common Blue would pose for a pic.

A bit of sunshine had the grasshoppers stridulating and this Field Grasshopper sat up nicely after a bit of chasing round after him.

What a crackin plum colour...

At just two locations along the edge of the dyke we came across large numbers of these Green Leafhoppers. Back at the office a look on the NBN Gateway maps confirmed this as yet another Fylde first...again only because nobody has bothered to look before probably.

This micro-moth fluttered conveniently into range - no idea!

Plants-wise the field is really good now that it's not being grazed to death by too many horses, this year it's not being grazed at all; time will tell if that's a good thing or not. We found a good stand of Common Centaury and rakes of Tufted Vetch (but no Blackneck moths :( ). Adjacent to the dyke was asmall patch of Common Toadflax, big robust plants in contast to the rather weeny ones on the nature reserve and cliffs (if they've appeared this year - not been down for a while).

Purple Loosestrife is always a pleasure to find but again there was only this one small patch with a few individual 'outlyers'.

OUr surveying team worked hard to find what they were looking for - there's two of them in the pic...can you find the second girl?

But they came up trumps with a minimum of 34 latrines found in only about 150 yards of ditch and mostly only searching one side, numerous feeding signs were recorded and a big handful of burrows investigated. Altogether they estimated about six breeding females along this stretch of water. so it was well worth us having the extra ponds dug.

Charming pic but irrefutable evidence

On our travels through the bankside vegetation we came across three of these strange plants each growing with its own stick to help it stay upright. Wonder what they can be?

Now the 'over-to-you' section...

Is this Betony?

Don't think it's Marsh Woundwort and it certainly ain't Hedge Woundwort.

Anyone any good with grasses. This slender flowered thingy was about 18 inches (45cm) tall

It could be Smaller Cat's Tail, Phleum bertolonii...there again it could be something entirely different.

Where to next? Anything could happen tomorrow
In the meantime let us know what's lurking in the ditches in your outback.


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Looking at it again the Betony thingy is probably a short specimen of Marsh Woundwort bu it does look quite different to those we're more familiar with on the nature reserve.



Anonymous said...

I can help with the micro, Dave. Eucosma campoliliana.

cliff said...

That looks a terrific wildlife habitat Dave, I wouldn't mind a guided tour sometime if possible?