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Reserves by name
It takes us a couple of hours to get the reserve ready for visitors and during this time our Saltholme Guides - volunteers - are looking to see what is about.
At 0915 hrs today Brian took this photo of a Kingfisher on the post at Wildlife Watchpoint Hide which Dean had placed for just such a visit - thanks for the photo, Brian.
Now that the reserve is maturing these birds have more chance of catching a fish so are more commonly seen - but not that often!
During the day Bert and Ian saw little stint, spotted redshank, wood sandpiper and green sandpiper - quite a lot is passing through now we are at the end of the breeding season.
Posted by Peter Langham
Breeding is over, many birds have lost their breeding plumage and will soon be moving on. Some are already passing through.
It only seems recently that we were looking at a ruff in breeding plumage rather than this plainer garb.
There are now flocks of dunlin and the coot are collecting in larger numbers. Lapwing will soon be forming large flocks, to be joined by golden plover.
This lapwing was taken by Lockhart.
Dean blogged about the poplar hawk-moth last week - it is hard to find!
Butterflies are easier to see with all the common species around. In the Wildlife Garden the Verbena bonariensis (tall with purple flowers) is good for peacock, small tortoiseshell and comma.
Meadow brown and common blue can be seen anywhere
A wall brown butterfly as seen by Lockhart
On Sunday, the viper's bugloss, Echium vulgare (which we have planted in the garden), was visited by a hummingbird hawk-moth. A wonderful moth on a great wild flower which grows wild in the area but, although seed is available in garden forms, is seldom grown. Colourful and great for bees, butterflies and moths so why is it not in lots of gardens?
And the prize for this weeks juiciest animal goes to...............
The Poplar Hawkmoth caterpillar feeding on the willows at the entrance to the Wildlife Watchpoint Hide. The spike is on the rear end of the caterpillar and is meant to confuse birds into thinking it is a horn on the head. A bird pecking at the rear end of the caterpillar will do less damage. This juicy individual will carry on feeding, getting a little larger, until September, so no that much larger. When it is fully grown, it will descend to the ground and pupate over winter just under the soil close to the food plant. And if all goes well, an adult Poplar Hawkmoth will emerge next May.
You'll have to look closely to find it though, even though it is 6cm long, and very juicy, it's surprisingly hard to find.
Posted by Dean H
With just over a week left of the school holidays the team at Saltholme have been reflecting on what a fantastic summer we have had so far. We're on Minibeast week this week and the recent spell of damp weather followed by a brighter spell has meant that the invertebrates of Saltholme have been particularly obliging. plenty of creepy crawlies are being caught in our sweep nets and the grasshoppers are in full 'voice'. The last week of the holidays we will have the theme of 'waterworld' No, Kevin Costner wont be joining us for a week! We'll be exploring the reason that this reserve is such a fantastic place for wildlife, it is of course a wetland reserve!
The middle of August is traditionally a poorer time for bird watching, when many birders look to wildflowers, moths and butterflies to keep their interest in the natural world piqued, Here at Saltholme however we have had a flurry of activity, as well as the usual late summer residents such as yellow wagtail with their now juvenile offspring, swallows and sand martins, we have had an influx of early migrants.
Dave A, one of our regular Tuesday Saltholme guide volunteers managed to get us quite an impressive list yesterday, starting the day with a short eared owl in the Discovery Zone. The day continued to improve, despite the weather yesterday with marsh harrier and a female smew adding to the highlights of the day.
Turns out August isn't such a bad time to see birds after all...
Full list courtesy of Dave A on 18 August
Black tailed godwit, magpie, lapwing, common tern, gadwall, mallard, coot, moorhen, little egret, shoveler, teal, water rail, starling, gargany, snipe, herring gull, little grebe, greenshank, woodpigeon, curlew, short eared owl, marsh harrier, great tit, tree sparrow, wren, blue tit, greenfinch, cormorant, goldfinch, lesser black backed gull, mute swan, canada goose, sand martin, swallow, ruff, dunlin, pied wagtail, little grebe, greylag goose, wigeon, meadow pipit, black headed gull, barnacle goose, tufted duck, grey herron, carrion crow, redshank, smew (female) pochard, great crested grebe.
Posted by Lydia T
On Friday Dean blogged about the waders and on Saturday Lockhart saw these black-tailed godwits flying in.
And spot the greenshank
There was also a common sandpiper.
Since we cut the sedge and reed at the Phil Stead hide there are some very good views.
Elsewhere there are lots of common blue butterflies looking for the common bird's-foot trefoil on which to lay their eggs.
This is a female - not as blue as the male but she is on the bird's-foot trefoil.
Today some other birds flew in with a short-eared owl being seen over the discovery zone and a merlin visible from Paddy's hide.
The short-eared owls were not common last year but in some winters they have been seen frequently even over the car park first thing in the morning.
The birds of the moment are the 5 juvenile Garganey (2 broods) that can be seen on Bottom Tank and Wildlife Watchpoint, and the female Smew that is hanging around on the Allotment Pool.
The female Smew by Ian Forrest.
The abundant mud is still bringing in the waders with over 300 Dunlin currently on Dorman's Pool. We've also got 60 Dunlin at Saltholme Hide, with up to 3 Greenshank, 7 Ruff, 14 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Green Sandpiper, 1 Wood Sandpiper and 1 Little Stint scattered around the various pools. Juvenile Yellow Wagtails are following the cows around and 2 Bittern were seen at Haverton on Wednesday.
And look who's back......................................
There is still a lot of activity with the common terns, with many adults flying with fish in their beaks to feed their young.
The little egrets are busy feeding themselves, and Lockhart caught this one at Wildlife Watchpoint hide yesterday.
A nice, tasty stickleback.
But rodents also have to keep a careful lookout - even read the signs?
These telegraph poles are a good place to see a kestrel looking for a meal.
A few days age Dean blogged about a rare alga. Today we had several sightings of an unusual butterfly - Essex skipper. Follow the links for pictures and look at the map for the usual distribution.
It's that time of year again when waders that have failed to breed in the Tundra regions start to return, looking for wet mud to stick their long bills into for midge larvae and other wriggly delights. These waders are still in their breeding plumage and look their very best. However, this year the dry and windy weather here at Saltholme has meant there is more than the usual amount of wet mud edge for them. This week we're hosting up to 31 Dunlin, 5 Common Sandpiper, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Wood Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 4 Little Ringed Plover and 3 Greenshank.
A Black-tailed Godwit, by Lockhart Horsburgh.
The high tide earlier in the week even resulted in a couple of very red Knot appearing on the Saltholme Pools. At this time of year, and in these conditions, I'm sure there will plenty more surprises.
At the Haverton Viewpoint, there is a small hole on top of one of the sleepers forming the seats. Within this hole, a few Leaf-cutter Bees are excavating further holes within the wood and making nests with small semicircles of leaf they have cut with their large jaws. They roll the leaf bits into sausages and carry them into the nest chambers to make a cosy egg laying site. Mark Walpole, one of our Saltholme Guides, managed to get this picture on Sunday of a Bee entering the hole.
The Larvae is provisioned with food in the form of nectar and pollen, and then the parent seals up the Sausage crib with another cut leaf disc. The new bee emerges from the hole next spring. You can often see where Leaf-cutter Bees have been at work in gardens as they are particularly fond of roses, leaving them with little circular holes in the leaves.
In America, research has shown that one Leaf-cutter Bee can do the job of 20 Honey Bees in pollinating agricultural plants, so they are very important to us. In parts of Europe, some species line their nests with petals instead of cut leaves. Everyone say Ahhhhhhh.
We're setting up an emergency fund that we can use to get our reserves back into shape and repair the damage caused. Please help us rebuild from the worst storm in 60 years.
Grid reference: NZ5023 (+2km)
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