Monday, 31 July 2017

July 31st Minsmere

The sun is out and there are no signs of thunderstorms unlike the last time I was at Minsmere a few weeks ago. The butterflies and other insects are out in force due to the warm weather today. The buddleia bushes and lavender bed adjacent to the entrance of the visitor centre was especially busy, acting like magnets with the sweet nectar drawing them in. Painted ladies, red admirals, peacocks, meadow browns, gatekeepers, graylings, green-eyed flower bees, the list goes on.

Small Copper

Pantaloon Bee
The section of path with the colony of bee-wolves (or 'Wasp Alley' as it has been known as lately) is still rather industrious  as it was during my last visit. However, the bee-wolf isn't the only species making nest chambers at Wasp Alley as I noticed jewel wasps, large digger wasps and, best of them all, pantaloon bees. This is a species of mining bees named for their large pollen sacs on their hind legs, which looks like its wearing a pair of pantaloons. I've never actually seen one before, so seeing one pop it's head out of it's hole really made my day. I also saw common blue butterflies in abundance along the beach, a butterfly that I haven't seen at all this year until now!

Roesel's Bush-cricket
Common Blue

Common Sandpiper
At first glance out on the scrapes from East Hide, it looked quite empty, at least it was according to my mum. Scanning carefully, however, revealed a good list of waders and other birds. The longer we stayed, the more birds we found. There were avocets, dunlin, common sandpiper, green sandpiper, black-tailed godwits, ruffs, a knot, lapwing, a spotted redshank, a little stint, sand martins, linnets, teal, mallards, common terns, barnacle geese, Canada geese, shovelers, an oystercatcher and black-headed gulls.

Green Sandpiper
Black-tailed Godwit
Spotted Redshank

Little Stint
Common Tern
Female Reed Bunting
Funnelweb Spider
After leaving the hide, we carried on towards the sluice gates before heading back to the visitor centre for lunch. Whilst we were walking to the sluice, we were scanning the long grass, gorse bushes and fences for wasp spider webs. I was told that this was the best area on the reserve to find these large, colourful spiders. Their webs themselves are like a really big orb web with a distinctive zigzag patterns radiating out from the middle. Sadly, I was unable to find either the web or the spider, but there were many other species of spider around, including countless funnelweb spiders, which hide in a silken funnel in a corner of their sheeted web.

An Orbweb Spider of some kind
Yellow Horned Poppy
Sea Kale
View of the scrapes from the dunes
After lunch, I did go for a walk to the Island Mire and Bittern Hides, but there wasn't much about. The only mentionable highlight from this walk were a couple of brown argus butterflies as I was making my way down the hill where the Springwatch HQ building was (its been taken down now). Annoyingly though, my camera just wouldn't focus on them properly for some reason and I ended up taking a couple of dud shots before the butterflies fluttered away.

Knopper Gall
Some kind of toadstool (a very pretty one)

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