Preparation for Emergence

Today, Green Hairstreak and Small Heath Butterflies appeared for the first time this year.

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Green Hairstreak

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Small Heath

A pair of Mallards have taken to arriving at dawn onto the wild pond and staying for about an hour. They were here this morning – I would like to know where they spend the rest of the day.

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Last night I put a few slightly-out-of-date eggs out with the peanuts and a camera on the cliff caught a fox making off with one:

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Elsewhere, on the bare earth strip on Day 2 of the Supplementary Feeding Project, again the foxes were working on it through the night, presumably after the sunflower hearts. Many more birds have now found the food – a pair of Grey Partridge have been there most of the day:

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We went up and looked at them through binoculars and realised that there was a small third partridge that didn’t come onto the strip and so wasn’t being caught on camera. On doing a quick bit of research about them, I find that juvenile birds are insect eating and so the strip wouldn’t have the same allure for them. The baby birds get up and move really quickly after hatching and the parents take them around with them and so I presume this is what is happening here.

Other birds caught on the strip today:

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Linnet
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Woodpigeon
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Stock Dove
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Magpie

After having seen the first Dragonfly of the year yesterday, our thoughts turned to the new pond up near the hide. As recommended by the Freshwater Habitats Trust, we have done nothing to this pond – no planting in the water or around the edge out of the water – but are just letting it do its own thing. The idea is that it is completely natural and wild. Things will take longer to arrive but that just means we have longer to enjoy each stage as it comes. This does mean that we are also getting a long time to ‘enjoy’ its blanket weed stage that its going through at the moment which makes its appearance less savoury than we would ideally wish. The blanket weed will disappear as the pond comes into equilibrium but we are not there yet.

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Also not there yet are any rushes or reeds that emerging dragonfly larvae can clamber out of the water on to become adults. Most of the literature that I read on dragonflies say that the larvae are in the water for at least two years which would mean that we would not be expecting any this year from this 15 month old pond. However, in the wild pond that we dug three years ago, we had both Broad Bodied Chasers and Emperors emerging after just one year.

So we need to be prepared.

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We cut bits from this old, dead branch and put these bits into flowerpots, weighted down by stones and placed them into the pond.

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That was fun – looks a bit stupid, mind you, but will be interesting to see if our artificial structures are used if and when the time comes.

Also interesting was this spider the colour of Granny Smith apples that had made its web within the curve of a Wayfarer tree leaf:

Araniella cucurbitina or opisthographa

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I have looked her up in my spider book and I’m pretty sure she is either a Cucumber spider (Araniella opisthographa) or a Common Cucumber Spider (A. cucurbitina). These two species are outwardly indistinguishable but they are both widespread and common spiders found on trees in a range of habitats.

Its been a glorious lovely day and another forecast for tomorrow. Things are moving very rapidly here now that Spring has finally got a chance to spring.

 

 

 

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