An afternoon visit, starting off overcast with a light South-westerly breeze blowing, before brightening up, with temperatures just in to double figures. Certainly more to find on this visit as spring progresses. Lepidoptera wise I finally saw my first butterfly of the season, a Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae flying past Turret hide. Also of interest were a couple of moth caterpillars, firstly a Garden Tiger Arctia caja, regularly found around the site, though this one had just shed its skin, so was in good condition. Secondly a nice Angle Shades Phlogophora meticulosa caterpillar along Dryham Lane.
Next up are the True Bugs, with Pied Sheildbugs Tritomegas bicolor making their first appearance of the year, at least three found around the reserve. After my first on my last visit, another Common Flower Bug Anthocoris nemorum, again found on nettles.
A few fly species included a couple of hoverflies. At least four Cheilosia pagana were feeding on the Lesser Celendines in Black Dike, along with a single Eristalis Tenax, with another of the latter species feeding on the Coltsfoot around Turret Hide. Only managed a poor record shot of the former, mainly to check that they had orange antennae to aid ID. An attractive Moth-fly Psychodidae sp. was along the western path, though to get to species level it would need microscopic identification, and they are only 2-3mm in size, so quite pleased with the detail in this shot.
Dabbled with a few spider shots, though they are a difficult group to identify from photos. Believe the first to be Larinioides cornutus, a species associated with wetlands. Second one was one of the Zebra Spiders Salticus sp. looking a bit worn, making it difficult identify. Finally a Philodromus sp. was on the wooden panels as you enter Turret Hide. Again, can’t get to species without detailed examination, due to them all being very variable. Sticking with the Arachnids, a Red Velvet Mite Trombidium cf. holosericeum added a splash of colour to the proceedings and was found on the bare sandy soil along the edge of the Maize Field. Worth keeping an eye out as this appears to be ideal habitat for them. This is one of our larger mites, around 4mm in size, though can’t confirm 100% the actual species.
A few queen bees now busy around the reserve, with Buff-tailed Bumblebee Bombus terrestris, Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius and Common Carders Bee Bombus pascuorum all present today. Other bits and pieces included several 7 Spot Ladybirds Coccinella septempunctata, though still no sign of any of the scarcer species. Another beetle seen was one of the Altica sp. a small leaf beetle, again difficult to determine to species.
Birding highlights included three Corn Buntings Emberiza calandra in the North Hedge, a new year tick. Three Mediterranean Gulls Larus melanocephalus on site, 2 adults on Main Lake and a second summer bird on Village Lake. At least four Brambling Fringilla montifringilla still around the feeders, a male posing nicely in the trees to the right of the feeders. Several Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita present on site, along with a yaffling Green Woodpecker Picus viridis making sure you were aware of its presence.
Full set of photos from the day can be found on my Flickr site.