Mothing & Muntjacs

   Moth recording at Ladywalk appears to have always been a bit hit and miss. A lot of the trapping has occurred in the summer months, meaning an area of Ladywalk’s fauna is perhaps incomplete. There are records for the years 05,07,10 on the records page of this blog, totalling 349 species. A few more years records I think are floating around but I’m sure we can add to this list and get a fuller picture of the moth life at Ladywalk.

   So from this month onward David Eaton will be trapping on one night a month. Our first attempt was last night but from April, anyone is free to come down and take part in looking through the nights catch and learning a bit more. Dates will be posted on twitter (@ladywalknature) and we will meet at Sainsbury’s Hide at 7am!

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   Last night, two traps were set up, one at Sainsbury’s and another around Angling Pools. Over night it was a bit breezy but it remained dry at least. Some interesting species were trapped.

Sainsbury’s – Diurnea fagella 2, Common Quaker 13, Hebrew Character 12, Clouded Drab 8, Small Quaker 3, Dotted Border 1, Engrailed 2, Herald 1, Oak Beauty 2, Chestnut 1. Total = 45

Angling Pools – Clouded Drab 9, Diurnea fagella 7, Common Quaker 20, Small Quaker 1, Oak Beauty 1, Hebrew Character 3, Yellow Horned Moth 1, Twin-spotted Quaker 1. Total = 43

Totals = 88 moths of 12 species.

   So a pretty good haul for March. Fantastic to see species like Herald again as well as Yellow Horned but you can’t beat an Oak Beauty. Superb markings and those massive antennae are incredible.

   As well as moth trapping, we’ve been spying on the wildlife with our new camera trap. Things were slow at first and it took a while to get used to the equipment but we have had some good footage lately. The muntjac love the cameras and the badgers have started to show as it’s warmed up. It would be nice to be able to build up a picture of badger life and try to gauge numbers and perhaps even identify individuals. Plenty more is evading the camera at the moment but we’ll get there. The real prize would be an otter on film. Click the links below to view through Youtube.

Muntjac No.1

Badger No.1

 

March WeBS Day

   A beautiful morning to be out at Ladywalk, signs of spring were everywhere. Despite the early drizzle, the birds were in full voice. A dozen Chiffchaff were around the reserve, mainly along the river singing away. A Small Tortoiseshell was out around Bittern Hide.

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Small Tortoiseshell – P.Lichfield

   High in the sky 4 Buzzards soared and grappled over B pools followed by 3 Ravens passing through. On the pools themselves, potentially 3 pairs of Great Crested Grebe were busy in courtship dancing and nest building whilst a pair of Little Grebes are setting up home right in front of Hide B.

Little Grebe

Little Grebe – P.Lichfield

   Waterbird numbers continue to dwindle but there are still good numbers of Shoveler and Teal, though no sign of a hoped for Garganey this morning. The pair of Pintail were split between the river and main pool and the Kingfishers were vocal on the river under the bridge by the car park. Sadly the Bittern seems to have departed, last sighted on the 1st March.

WeBS List;

Mute Swan 6, Canada Goose 52, Mallard 68, Gadwall 26, Pintail 2, Shoveler 111, Wigeon 34, Teal 95, Pochard 2, Tufted Duck 52, Goosander 6, Little Grebe 8, Great Crested Grebe 6, Cormorant 40, Grey Heron 1, Little Egret 1, Water Rail 4, Moorhen 27, Coot 34, Oystercatcher 2, Lapwing 5, Snipe 1, Black-headed Gull 11, Lesser Black-backed Gull 3, Kingfisher 2.

Work Party

Every second Monday of the month over the winter period, Ladywalk has a maintenance day to keep the place in good nick. Jobs vary from tidying up the hides to some serious chainsaw work!

The first thing on the agenda was to further increase the security of the reserve by removing the last of the footbridges at the north end which gave access to the general public. The only way in now is through the coded gate. The drainage ditches have slowly been improved over the winter and having no bridges in the way will only make ongoing drainage maintenance easier.

Task 2 was to tackle the trees around New Bay to the right of Riverwalk Hide. Trees with lesser value have been felled such as the small poplars, whilst the rest have been layered. Layering involves part felling the tree so that it lies down whilst still being attached to the stump. In the spring the layered trees then send up dense, vertical growth. So what we are trying to achieve is a living fence surrounding New Bay because it’s far too open at the moment, anything feeding in the bay is flushed by passing birders. Any remaining gaps in the trees will be filled with willow fencing.

 

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  Another ongoing project is to remove large trees from the marsh areas. You’ll have noticed it particularly at the north end of the reserve. All big willows have been layered to keep them low and the willows around North Pool (to the left of B Hide) have all been felled to open it up. There’s still plenty of clearance to do but hopefully by creating a more open corridor of marshland, it will encourage water birds that migrate along the route of the Tame to actually stop and feed at Ladywalk rather than just fly over. We’ve already noticed that more birds are using North Pool than before, so that’s good news!

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So there’s plenty to be done. The next work party will be on Monday 13th March and all are welcome. If you feel you would like to come and have a go and join the team at any point, just fill in the contact form on the blog and we’ll give you extra details. Some time soon as well, there will be a dedicated Volunteer page with all the relevant information.

February WeBS Day

   A truly miserable morning for the February WeBS count, the blustery conditions and drizzle meant a lot of stuff was keeping it’s head down. So no sign of any Bittern today plus the number of wildfowl today was quite low. The pools were very quiet with most of the duck confined to the river. With no ice on the pools, the Peregrines presence seems more likely, though there was no sign when I was there.

   The highlight of the morning was a very brief Black-tailed Godwit on the island in front of Riverwalk Hide (9:35am) with 23 Lapwing. Just as soon as I’d picked it up, off went the flock and it didn’t come back. Passerine wise, Siskins were vocal this morning and several Song Thrushes were quite showy despite the grotty weather.

WeBS List;

Little Grebe 11, Great Crested Grebe 2, Cormorant 29, Little Egret 1, Grey Heron 6, Mute Swan 8, Canada Goose 39, Shelduck 4, Mallard 97, Gadwall 57, Shoveler 40, Wigeon 35, Teal 78, Pochard 3, Tufted Duck 68, Goosander 2, Moorhen 21, Coot 46, Lapwing 23, Black-tailed Godwit 1, Black-headed Gull 23, Lesser Black-backed Gull 2.

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