Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Aug 5th Strumpshaw Fen

Ben recording the moths caught last night

No need for an early walk this morning as Ben, one of Strumpshaw's wardens, was rummaging through the contents of his moth trap. As well as a few hornets and wasps, which are often attracted to bright lights, there were some beautiful moths caught in the trap last night. Here are just a few of the highlights...
Black Arches
Dark Arches
Common Carpet
Drinker Moth

Garden Tiger Moths
Elephant Hawkmoth
I was told of some interesting news about Strumpshaw today, as the Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service has made us their grid square of the month. This means we need to gather a list of every species of bird, plant, insect, etc, found within the square marked on the map, which covers most of the reserve (but not from where Reception Hide is). Anyone can take part in helping us record the species, in fact, the more the merrier. If you consider yourself as an expert on a particular wildlife group, come have a walk and tell us what you found or go to the website mentioned in the information below.

 Reception Hide was busy today and I hardly stayed put to keep my usual watchful eye out for anything that might interest the visitors. When I did have the time to spot wildlife, I managed to see the kingfisher making a few visits to its favourite distant perches. I am still waiting for it to make a closer visit to the hide for a better photograph. The swallowtail caterpillar in front of the hide is still feeding on the milk parsley and has gotten really big now. Sadly, the ones by the pond-dipping pond are missing. Either they have been predated on or someone has pinched them for their collection. I am hoping it is neither and they are hiding out of sight.
Swallowtail Caterpillar
Female Blackcap
Grey Heron
Southern Hawker
 As I said, I have been too busy to watch for wildlife from the hide. A group of four dragonfly enthusiasts had arrived hoping to see willow emerald damselflies and I decided to help them find one. I took them to the section of ditch on the other side of the reserve between the boardwalk and the railway line where they are normally found. This is a scarce, big, green damselfly, about the size of some hawker dragonflies and has only been reported at Strumpshaw since 2010. For some reason, they prefer just that one section of ditch, but that does not narrow down the search. Willow emeralds are difficult to find as they can look like part of the vegetation it perches on. It is no wonder then that we failed to see one. We found other dragonflies though, which is better than nothing.

Migrant Hawker
Purple Loosestrife
Elder berries
Pond Dipping at Strumpshaw!
Back at Reception Hide, but not for long! Many of families are visiting the reserve today to do a bit of pond dipping. This is a popular activity and is part of our summer trail that includes other activities for children to do over the summer holidays. They can also build mini ponds for their gardens back home and many other things to get them into nature up until they go back to school in September.

The huge Diving Beetle
I went over to the pond to see what the families had found. The children were having the time of their lives dipping the nets into the pond and hauling out pondweed and the creatures hiding inside them. They caught some brilliant things. I helped out with identifying the creatures they found including; young newts, water boatmen, sticklebacks and a water scorpion. Best of all was a giant diving beetle. I think it could be one of the two rarer species found at Strumpshaw, both being very big or it could be the more common great diving beetle. The great silver diving beetle does occur in this pond and is massive, comfortably fitting within the palm of your hand. I'm not sure which one this beetle is, but the kids were excited about catching the monster insect!

Young Newt (called an eft)
Water Boatman
Water Scorpion
Ruddy Darter

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