Thursday, 25 September 2008

Thursday 25th.September 2008

After yesterday's weather , this morning's sun and mild temperature was a welcomed surprise . I set off to check half a dozen Dormice tubes that I put up , with permission of the Keeper , in the woodland behind Spring Park Pond , the site managed by the City of London .
On the way from the car park , across the meadow , something flashed past me and landed about 10 mtrs. in front . Carefully approaching , I could see it was a Small Copper , and in very good condition . Other butterflies recorded , Comma (1) , Speckled Wood (4) and Small White (3) . As the sun was out , I couldn't pass the pond without having a look . Last visit was dour , and to begin with , this one looked as if it would be the same . The three juvenile Moorhens haven't moved on , but there is no sign of the adults , perhaps it is the reverse of the farm lake , and the juveniles have driven them off , or perhaps , they just got fed up with the kids . With the sun still warming things up , a few male Common Darters appeared and started scrapping over bankside ownership . I was about to leave them to it , when a male Southern Hawker appeared , and after a while settled on the surrounding vegetation . The blue markings on segments 9 and 10 , are diagnostic for the male , the female being green and brown all over . After a few minutes , another male appeared and aerial scrapping started , one trying to beat the
other down onto the water surface , where surface tension would make it very hard to get back in the air again . A few minutes later , another two appeared , one of them being an immature male , which later settled under passing cloud cover , enabling a picture opportunity . He hasn't yet got the blue markings on the end of his abdomen . By this time , the Common Darter numbers had increased to about a dozen , and they started to get on with what they were born for , reproduction . Within minutes , there were at least four pairs ovipositing in tandem , being harrassed by the Southern Hawkers .

I left them to it , and set off to check the Dormice tubes . These are sections of square , brown rainwater downpipe , with a sliding wooden insert , and an entry hole at one end , wired to suitable Hazel bushes in the woodland . We put them in about 18 months ago , but have not had any evidence of Dormice . I did find moss and dried grass , probable Tit nest attempt in one tube , but that was all . One tube had disappeared completely and one unwired and thrown away , which I found . I shall resite the tubes in a recently coppiced area of Hazel , and monitor them again next year . Whilst searching for the one thrown away , I found this caterpillar which wouldn't have looked out of place with the Sex Pistols . Any ideas ?

After lunch , I had a walk up on Keston Common . I made my way to see if the Hares Ears had finished , and was surprised to see that they were still in very good condition . Another interesting fungi found , was Sparassis crispa - Cauliflower or Brain fungus .
I couldn't leave without checking on the Mandarins . There were fewer on the lower pond than the other day , but a male and female posed on the side .
When I got to the main fishing pond , I found the rest of them , but as soon as I got close , they paddled away , but I noticed that they were not phased by passing cars . So I went and got mine , and parked alongside the pond . After a while , they were quite happy to come to the edge , with me in the car taking shots . They seemed to me to be feeding on fallen acorns from an overhanging Oak tree . Every time one fell into the water , it attracted their attention , and they paddled around looking on the bottom , then diving and coming up with the acorn in their bill . After each dive , the duck would rise up in the water and flap it's wings to dry off .
After a while , probably because all the fallen acorns had been devoured , they lost interest and paddled to the other side of the pond and lifted out of the water , like I had seen them do before , for a preening session , on the overhanging trees .
Forgot to mention last night , the family of Dormice found on the August survey , had been successfully reared and left home , as an empty nest was found this time round .

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