Almost 700 people enjoyed the Pantaloons performances of the Canterbury Tales last weekend. The sun shone for most of the time ( at least during the daytime performances!)and the evening performances were dry and warm as well. We have already booked the 'loons to come back next August, when they will be performimng both the Brothers Grimm and The importance of being Ernest-so lots of fun to look forward to again at The Lodge in 2012.
After a quiet couple of weeks,more birds have been in evidence over the last couple of days. A massive flock of over 90 mistle thrushes has been flying into trees around the Gatehouse from nearby Sandy Ridge.This is a record count of these large thrushes at The Lodge-and quite possibly a Bedfordshire record as well.The thrushes could be counted accuratley as they all flew up over the gatehouse when a peregrine zipped through and took a woodpigeon, alarming all of the birds in the area. A few crossbills have also been seen lately, with several on the fence enclosing a section of gorse on Sandy Ridge this afternoon. There have been a few finches on the ground around here, with both goldfinches and greenfinches getting seed from small flowers growing amongst the grasses.So a few birds to wet our appetite for the coming weeks, when migration starts all over again.
Here at The Lodge nature reserve we have spent the last three weekends at our “dragonfly watch” Date with Nature. After being thwarted by a very wet and slow start on the first weekend, with few visitors and even fewer dragonflies, the weather improved hugely and we have had great views of these beautiful insects!
The best day was last Sunday when we had the knowledge and help of the Buckinghamshire dragonfly recorder who recorded seven species of damselfly and five species of dragonfly. We saw at least four individual emperors, one of which was egg-laying so we know they are breeding here at The Lodge. There was a brown hawker and a common darter and a large flight of migrant hawkers, which was the first day we had seen these here.
In the garden pond a family also found large numbers of exuviae (larval skin) and they were identified as common darter and southern hawker, so although we did not see southern hawker flying that day, we could confirm that they were breeding.
The red-eyed, the small red-eyed and the azure damselflies were all seen mating and the common blue, the large red, the blue-tailed and banded demoiselle damselflies were also seen flitting across the pond and landing on the lily pads. To top off our dragonfly watch we also had excellent views of a feeding hummingbird hawkmoth.
Our weekends of dragonfly watching at The Lodge have come to an end for this year, although August is still a great time to visit and watch these insects. But never fear, we are at Fowlmere nature reserve on 6th and 7th August so come along to help us see which dragonflies and damselflies can be seen here too.
It's been exciting birding here today, the hobbies that we suspected of breeding on the new heath have been flying around with their young! It looks like at least three young, which is brilliant.They should be active over the next eight to ten days, so come up on a nice day to watch them before they head off back to Africa. A spotted flycatcher flew around the gatehouse car park as well.
Our warden, Andy Schofield, heard a woodlark on Sandy Ridge this morning. We had another report of one on land opposite the reserve entrance yesterday. A small flock of crossbills have been heard flying around, but they are rarely seen.Let's hope they stay and start to use the ponds near the hide for drinking , as they have in previous times.A lonely swallow flew over the new heath on Sunday and the huge mistle thrush flock has now shrunk to about twenty birds.A group of six red-legged partridges scurried over the field on Sandy Ridge, they are probably a family that have bred here on the reserve.