It’s been an exciting day for wildlife recording here at Langford with some star bird species making an appearance and a potential first for the County!
The day started off rather dreary, with overcast skies and light rain as I made my way around silt lagoon 4, but I was soon cheered up by the fantastic squeal of a water rail in the bankside vegetation right beside me. Numerous redwings and fieldfares flew over Phase 2 and a cetti’s warbler called loudly from silt lagoon 6.
This afternoon the three whooper swans returned after an absence of about a week, with an accompanying group of mute swans on silt lagoon 5 and a stunning male stonechat was perched on top of a willow tree around silt lagoon 6. However, it was thanks to our former Nature after Minerals Project Officer, Paul French for picking up the best species of the day….bearded tit. We had a flock of up to 15 last winter and it’s is great to see them returning this year. The birds were picked up around silt lagoon 6, so can be viewed and heard easily from the public footpath along the eastern boundary of the reserve, just south of the viewing screen. Please stick to the public footpath when viewing.
And the potential first for the County….? Not a bird, but a beetle, Longitarsus dorsalis to be exact. This species has no English name, but is a member of the leaf beetle family, the Chrysomelidae. It is also known as a flea beetle, referring to it’s ability to jump long distances when disturbed. At only 2mm long, it is quite hard to spot, but is distinctive with a dark coloured body and a yellow band around the edges of it’s wing cases.
The species isn’t common in the UK, being fairly widespread, but local in south east England, East Anglia and the southern East Midlands, the larvae feeding on various species of Senecio – the ragworts and groundsels. We hope to find this beetle again next year and fully confirm it’s identification and continued presence on site.
With the current phase of landscaping on the verge of completion, Site Manager Michael Copleston couldn't wait to spread the word.
So, yesterday he invited BBC Radio Nottingam's Mark Dennison to the site, to tell him all about it.
You can hear Michael's interview on Mark's programme on Friday morning at 10.00.
In the meantime, you can 'read all about it' on the BBC Mobile news page on the internet under 'NEWS Nottingham'.
The above image shows Michael being interviewed by BBC Radio Nottingham's Mark Dennison.
I was out on site today conducting the monthly WeBS (Wetland Bird Survey) and what a pleasant morning it was, with clear skies and bright sunshine.
The results of the count are as follows –
72 tufted duck
5 little grebe
1 great crested grebe
3 grey heron
1 little egret
1 green sandpiper
9 mute swan
and a whopping 314 black headed gulls
Also on site today was a sparrowhawk over Phase 3, a treecreeper feeding with a tit flock in the woodland and a song thrush (not a species I see that often here), feeding in leaf litter on the woodland floor.
The end of the year is fast approaching and so too the end of our re-development works. Our contractors are now on the final stages of the project, re-profiling the balancing pond. The balancing pond is an area at the very north end of the site that was quarried out at the very beginning of the quarry's life, but was left unlandscaped when Phase 1 was originally created.
The work being conducted now will take material from the steep banks to produce a shallower incline and re-shape the edges of the pond. This will greatly improve the quality of the reedbed in this area, making it more attractive to a wide range of reedbed species.
Also this week, we have installed four new concrete drop-board sluices and gauge boards for monitoring water levels. These structures will enable us to gain better control over our water levels in the new Phase 1 and Phase 2, again creating ideal conditions for key reedbed species such as bittern, marsh harrier and reedbed invertebrates and flora.
Wildlife sightings from this week include –
kingfisher on Phase 3
Cetti’s warblers singing regularly from silt lagoons 4 and 6
female sparrowhawk hunting starlings roosting around the silt lagoons
peregrine hunting over Phase 1
150 fieldfares feeding on the public footpath by the river
flocks of bullfinches by the viewing screen
tree sparrows, reed buntings, greenfinches, chaffinches, blue and great tits at the feeding station by the viewing screen
male stonechat on phase 2
the first goldeneye of the winter arrived on Monday 12th, with 2 males on silt lagoon 1
regular group of 3 roe deer on Phase 3
and if you needed any more proof of the unseasonally mild weather we have been experiencing, take a look along the public footpath in the woodland at the elder trees coming into leaf!
One of the new sluices installed on the new Phase 1 area.
We had some new arrivals at Langford yesterday, when we took delivery of 1100 young rudd, or Scardinus erythrophthalmus, to give them their scientific name. The fish, which were bred and delivered by the Environment Agency have been introduced into Phase 1 and will hopefully grow on to become an important breeding population within our wetland habitat, supplememnting the existing fish populations in the reedbed and they also happen to be one of the favourite food items of bitterns!
They are named after their red or ‘ruddy’ coloured fins and have a blue-green coloured upperside, with silvery undersides – quite an attractive creature! Our fish are currently around 12-15cm in length, but will get as large as 25-30cm and will weigh in the region of 250g at maturity.
The species is native to Eurasia as far as the mid-Asian continent including the Caspian, Aral and Black Seas. It is common and widespread in England and Wales, but not present in Scotland. It prefers sluggish or slow flowing wetland habitats such as lakes, ponds, canals and of course reedbeds, where it lives communally in small groups in shallow water. It is omnivorous and feeds on vegetation and small invertebrates.
The introduced fish should be at breeding age in 2 years time, when they will spawn in May and June each year. The females lay their eggs into water, where they are fertilised externally and then stick to vegetation whilst they develop.
The rudd being transferred into Phase 1 by Langford staff and the Environment Agency.