The following course has been advertised on the Derbyshire Natural History Yahoo chat group and may be of interest to some of you:
Paul Shaw is running an adult education course about taking photos of birds in flight this Sunday (10.30 to 4pm) at Carsington for DWT. There will be a falconer present with birds for people to photograph. The cost is £50 and there are still a few places left I'm told.Booking essential: ring the DWT office 01773 881188 before the end of play (4.30 pm) on Friday (tomorrow).
Regular readers of this blog and of our social media feeds on Twitter and Facebook will remember the promise of some photos from last week of the day's insect finds. Well, here we go starting with the first Adela reaumurella (longhorn moth) of the year, by the woodland....
Chrysolina fastuosa, one of the leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae), there were numerous individuals on white dead-nettle around the woodland edge - beautiful insects. It is a scarce species here in Nottinghamshire.
And finally, this garden tiger moth caterpillar was in the polytunnel - what a fantastic creature! This species has declined massively in the last 30-40 years, but there is still a good population here at Langford.
It was Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) time again today and many thanks to volunteer Stuart Carlton for doing the survey for us! Here are Stuart’s results –
35 tufted duck
20 greylag goose
19 canada goose
5 grey heron
4 little egret
19 great crested grebe
12 mute swan
6 ringed plover
2 little ringed plover
1 black-tailed godwit
12 black-headed gull
3 common tern
Also on site today were 2 hobby’s, a male wheatear, yellow wagtail, my first blue damselfly of the year (a distant teneral, so no species ID!) and a mass emergence of Sialis lutaria (alderfly) – they were everywhere on Phase 1 this morning! It's nice to see the first chicks of the year too, with two young oystercatchers on Phase 1 and two broods of mallard ducklings on the balancing pond and Phase 1.
Volunteer Sunday was upon us once again last weekend and what a glorious day we had for some site maintenance tasks in the morning, followed by the annual bird race in the afternoon. 9 people arrived bright and early for some polytunnel work, car park and footpath maintenance.
It is that time of year again, when the polytunnel starts to need lots of maintenance including weeding, watering and seeding. All five propagation bays are full at the moment with growing shoots and they are looking fantastic. Whilst filling the bays with water, the group weeded more than a bay’s worth of plugs and removed all the weeds from the polytunnel itself – a great effort and the place looks so much better! Weeding is important as it reduces the competition for space, nutrients, light and water, allowing the reeds to grow healthily ready for planting or sale.
The car park area has had a bit of a make over too, with the white lining redone and the area swept and leveled out. The public footpath too requires maintenance and cutting back the over growing vegetation makes it much easier for visitors to use. A couple of great jobs – thanks to all involved.
And to the annual bird race! Two teams competed this year, aiming to record the most bird species on site throughout the afternoon. Almost 60 species were seen in total including hobby, yellow wagtail, grey partridge, 8 species of warbler, ringed plover and dunlin. But, we are a competitive lot and as we reconvened at the end of the afternoon, the big question was….who had won? After a tense few minutes, it was revealed that the winning total was 55 species, seen by Barrington, Sue, Mark, Will and my good self!
Well done to all and thanks for a very enjoyable day.
Each year I usually get the opportunity to go up to our reserve at Beckingham Marshes near Gainsborough to do a breeding bird survey. So, this morning I made my way up there, arriving on site for 07.00 on a beautiful, sunny spring morning – albeit with a definite chill in the air.
I don’t usually get the chance to see the reserve at this time in the morning and very pleasant it was too, with displaying lapwings, singing skylarks and tree sparrows chirping away from the hedgerows. In total I saw four pairs of lapwing on site, with their distinctive tumbling flight and ‘peewit’ call. 12 skylarks were singing and I was treated to an excellent song flight by a meadow pipit, flying up and descending back to it’s fence post perch.
Whitethroat, reed bunting, blackcap and yellowhammer were also singing away and there was a pair of shelduck and a pair of shoveler on the wet scrapes. Beckingham has a healthy population of tree sparrows and they can be heard calling from many of the boundary hedgerows – they were certainly in full voice this morning as I made my way down the visitor trail to the viewing platform.
Back at Langford, the good birds are still showing well, with a female marsh harrier over Phase 2 yesterday morning and a wood sandpiper on Phase 2 today – thanks to volunteer Graham Gamage for the record. Our lapwings and little ringed plovers are displaying too and can be seen from the viewing screen on Phase 1.
Unfortunately however, my butterfly transect wasn’t as successful yesterday, with only 15 individuals recorded, on what was a warm, sunny and still afternoon. For the 1st May, this isn’t very good at all to say the least! Species recorded were peacock, small tortoiseshell, brimstone, green-veined white and my first orange-tip of the year, a beautiful male on the public footpath near the woodland. And I haven’t had any more joy in re-finding our potentially rare hoverfly – so please keep looking!