It has been a pretty interesting couple of days at Arne, not only have we got new kestrel chicks which are doing well at the moment we have also got a live blue tit cam with at least 5 eggs in the nest and you can see this on the large screen in the centre!
Out on the reserve there seems to be a lot happening and things are getting going again after the period of heavy rain we had! We have had long lists of sightings in the last two days with highlights including the hobby that has been around for a week or so and the short eared owl that is still putting in the occasional appearance. There are two spoonbills about and they been seen feeding along the Middlebere channel on a number of occasions. Migrant wise cuckoos have been seen and heard on the reserve, there are still plenty of wheatears on the heath and whitethroats are also being spotted. The first early swifts are here and I did see a couple flying over the heath last weekend.
Today was a good one for common lizards which are taking advantage of the warmer drier weather and judging by kestrel cam there are plenty of slow worms about too (one of their favourite foods at the moment)! I have led a few walks recently and I have been struck by the amount of Minotaur beetles about. These large black beetles are fairly scarce heathland specialists which feed on the dung of rabbits and deer. They dig burrows in the sandy soil and drag the dung into a nest cavity where they will lay their eggs. When the larvae hatch they are sustained by the dung that has been provided for them! Minotaur beetles are so named because of the protruding horn like structures on their thorax which is reminiscent of the mythical creature from Greek legend! The 'horns' are used by the males to defend their burrows! So if you haven't seen these impressive beetles keep your eyes on the heathland paths as you walk around Arne!
Minotaur beetle by pochard
Also on the invertebrate front one of the first dragonflies of the year was seen today. This photo was taken by nikon4Pete and although the wings are at an angle I am pretty sure that it is an immature female 4 spot chaser (but I am happy to be proved wrong). This is a little bit early as they usually first start to emerge from ponds at the beginning of June!
Finally remember to tune in on Sunday to our live 'Dawn Chorus' webcast for a unique opportunity to hear the early morning bird song at Arne. For more informationsee my earlier blog 'Wake up to Dawn at Arne!' and go to http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/a/arne/dawnchorus.aspx on the day to listen in!
I saw one of these Beetles doing just this last month down the road at Higher Hyde Heath..it was funny to watch....thats a smart Dragonfly..:-)