Thursday, 12 April 2018

Countryside Round-up

Southwater Country Park
Mute Swan - A. Rodgers

Spring has certainly sprung around the sites with lots of beautiful wildflowers beginning to put on a show as well as the dawn chorus of our birds really starting to spark into life. Down at Southwater Country Park the pair of Mute Swans on Cripplegate Lake have made a nest right next to one of the paths so we have had to temporarily close this path off to reduce disturbance to her as she lays and incubates her eggs.

Two of the wardens went to check on her progress yesterday and she looks to have been pretty busy, when she eventually stood up Jo and Andrew could not believe their eyes. She had laid 8,  yes 8,  eggs in her beautifully crafted reed nest!!! I am pretty sure not all of the eggs will hatch as some of them were laid in the cold snap which could have affected them however we could potentially have 10 Mute Swans in a few of weeks time!
Phyllonorycter leucographella leaf mine on Pyracantha - Southwater Country Park
Staying at the Country Park, I also stumbled across the larvae of Phyllonorycter leucographella which is a micro moth. This is one of a huge number of leaf-mining moths that can be found in Great Britain. You can see the mine in the photo above which stretches like a blister across the midrib of the leaf. The mine is created by the larvae of the moth eating the inside of the leaf. The species is fairly common and can usually be found where the foodplant of the larvae grow which is this case is Pyracantha.

Chesworth Farm

Nosey Llamas - Chesworth Farm 
The Easter Scavenger Hunt was a great success despite the inclement weather and all of the children who attended were rewarded with a lovely Easter egg. Many thanks to the Friends of Chesworth Farm for putting on such a good event. 

If you have visited the Farm over the last week or so you may well have seen more flowers starting to appear around the site and you also might have been lucky enough to hear Chiffchaff, Skylark, Blackcap or Willow Warbler singing their hearts out as the males try to attract a mate for the breeding season. Keep an eye out for the bright yellow Lesser Celandines which are putting on a nice show by the Volunteer Centre.
Lesser Celandine - Chesworth Farm

Leechpool & Owlbeech Woods

Hibernacula Creation - Owlbeech Woods

Horsham Green Gym have once again been pulling out all the stops up on the heathland at Owlbeech Woods and this time they have been creating bare areas on the heathland soil which helps all sorts of invertebrates as well as ground nesting birds such as Woodlark and Nightjar.

They have also managed to create more hibernation habitat for our reptiles an amphibians such as Adders and Common Lizards, all of which are regularly seen on the sandy soils at Owlbeech. One of the volunteers also managed to spot a Grass Snake whilst at Owlbeech which was our first of the year here.

Warnham Local Nature Reserve

Sunset at Warnham LNR - R. Allison

The Reserve is finally starting to dry up after a very very muddy Easter Trail meant that much of the site was only accessible in wellington boots! Over 350 children came for the wildlife themed Easter trail which was excellent. It was so nice to see children enjoying the site even if the weather wasn't particularly pleasant, once again thanks to the Friends of Warnham Local Nature Reserve for their running of the event.

There is plenty of evidence of spring in the air here too with the Heronry becoming more active by the day with plenty of well grown young starting to make their feelings known about the need for food from their parents. This week has also seen a large arrival of spring migrants to the Reserve with Chiffchaff and Blackcap seemingly singing from everywhere as well as a couple of Willow Warblers which are singing from the willows around the Aston Trelford Hide. We have finally manged to get a tiny bit ringing done which produced the first spring migrant of 2018 which was this lovely female Blackcap.
Blackcap - Warnham Local Nature Reserve
Finally our warden Ryan and Horsham Green Gym managed to witness a truly amazing spectacle up at the Sandpiper Hide scrapes of grotesque proportion. Whilst doing some maintenance of the scrapes the volunteers found several huge black masses out into the open water, on closer inspection they were actually tadpoles and thousands of them! Below are a couple of pictures of them, has anyone else seen as many tadpoles in one group?!

Just a few Tadpoles!  - Warnham Local Nature Reserve

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