The Safari is going to start with a rant, don't worry it won't last long and then we'll be on to the important wildlife stuff. The local area is expecting a decision from the authorities about franking for shale gas, a very controversial issue. As might be expected we're not too keen on it. Before we get into anything other issues the eco-systems on our planet just can't afford the extra carbon. Rather than continuing giving subsidies to the fossil fuel lobby we should be going all out for energy efficiency and well suited and sited renewables.
The map below shows our local area with a screenshot of the Waco area of Texas super-imposed over it at the same scale. Each white dot on the Texas map is a fracking wellhead! OK you shouldn't really compare the two areas because the geology will be different but it gives an indication of how industrialised our green and pleasant 'desert' could become. What little wildlife that's found in those fields and hedgerows now won't be there long if it all comes to pass like this - keep it in the ground please!
Rant over - let's hope the authorities see senses and don't permit it...can/will the company involved guarantee the finished sealed weels wil stay sealed for maybe up to 1000 years or more to prevent gas leakage? Didn't think so.
Let's crack on with the good stuff. We weren't able to get out with the new Friends of Marton Mere group and had to make do with bobbing down after lunch and meeting up with BD to have a look at the Northern Marsh Orchids. The summer might be cold but it's sure looking lush, the vegetation hasn't half grown up since we were last there. We had a look for a couple of locally scarce plants, Hop Trefoil and Hare's Foot Clover but had no success. Nearby there was a multitude of Hogweed in the scrub area that was strimmed in the winter - absolutely hoverfly heaven!
Looking in our special place there was a female Great Crested Newt and a Toad.
The soundtrack was all the warblers, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Cetti's Warbler with Blackbird and Song Thrush singing too, not a bad accompaniment for the time of day. Better was our first grasshoppers singing we've heard this year but could we find one to get a pic of?
After a good wander round we mooched over to the orchid patch where BD was already camera in hand.
So it's not the biggest orchid patch in the world but it's impressive for these parts. Common Blue butterflies flitted around and our first Large Skipper of the year, neither were keeping particularly still
Although the Blue Tailed Damselflies are out at Base Camp we've not seen any others so the bright blue Common Blue Damsels were well worth pointing the camera at.
BD's keen eyes saw all sorts of fancy invertebrates but one that really stood out was a tiny snail on a Hedge Bindweed leaf. When we looked closely to photograph it we saw there were more, all on the bindweed.
BD has been able to identify it as Succinea putris...gotta be a new record for the reserve. We like the red margin to the bindweed leaves. Years ago we were 'frightened' of the bindweed as it does tend to be rampant but now we've seen so many years there we've come to realise it does little if any harm to the plants it climbs over and provides cover for the nesting birds and food for a whole host of invertebrates.
We enjoyed a good look round the top fields where we rarely tread but should do so more often. Back on the reserve proper we had a look at the meadow aka Reedbed now but there's going to back super show of Agrimony soon. From the hide we heard but didn't see a very close Cetti's Warbler and Reed Warbler. The Swifts tear-arsing around low over the water were spectacular though.
With time running out we took BD to see if the Great Crested Newt was still there as he's never seen one in the flesh. As we approached the area we heard the grasshoppers again and this time one kindly leapt in to the open. It's a Common Green Grasshopper with only one back leg.
Also about were more butterflies than we've seen so far this season. several whites, a couple of Small Tortoiseshells, several Speckled Woods and another Large Skipper that avoided the lens.
Our walk ended with Reed Buntings and Ragged Robin.
We've said it before and we'll say it again - this is a cracking little reserve with always something new to see if you look closely enough.
Where to next? Back to Patch 2 tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know looking all pretty in pink in your outback.PS - we feel privileged to have been asked to contribute to FW's 13 Years Wilde blog series and so far have had the same birdwatching jumpers as all the other contributors except Lucy.