At the south end of the long pond Bri was feeding bread to the swans and the three remaining cygnets. They were joined at the feeding by two mallard families, one female duck with nine ducklings and the other with three ducklings. The ducks nearly always give way to the swans. However the squabling between the mallard families was amusing. The ducklings of both broods would chase and peck at each other as would the adults between themselves and also the others young.
We were so pre-occupied with the antics of the mallards that we failed to notice a kestrel hunting near to us. Until we heard a couple of the ducklings make the alarm call. The kestrel had taken a vole from near the side of the pond alarming the ducklings. The kestrel flew right in front of us with its prey in its talons and headed off over the airfield to feed its young with his catch.
Yesterday we reported the bad news about the cygnets but today we can report good news for a family of Mallard, she has successfully reared nine ducklings, which will be flying any day, really remarkable how she has kept them from all the predators.
We have not seen many butterflies this year, but yesterday there were a few Large Skipper about, normally they would be much earlier and maybe it’s a sign that the Pearl-bordered Fritillary will also be late.
The Longhorn moths are now flying, these small moths love the shaded areas and are fascinating to watch, normally six to eight will fly vertically up and down in a small group and it is the long antennae that catches your eye, extremely long compared to the size of the moth, with the males having the longest.
A sad day yesterday, overnight it was cold and wet and three of the six cygnets disappeared, predation of just got separated from the parents we will never know. They were growing quite well and all six looked the same size.
We have sighted many other young birds and it seems it has been a good year, even with the late start, see photos.
An excellent day, especially for the insects. The combination of warm sunshine and little wind brought out a good variety of butterflies: small heath and common blue, plus a few small coppers, wall brown, large skipper and large white, the latter around the sea kale. Also saw several cinnabar moths and what I think is a brimstone moth, landed on the underside of a bramble leaf, which made it difficult to photograph. Brian will put me right if I have got that wrong. There were a few 4-spot chaser dragons and plenty of damsels, mainly common blues with a sprinkling of azures, blue-tailed and reds.
Looked along the shingle/dune edge for graylings but without success. Nice to see some new flowers opening along there, including wild thyme, lady’s bedstraw and sea bindweed. The birds-foot trefoil is seeding now, its pods showing how it got its name.
The long pool had plenty of families of mallard, including one with ten ducklings; also swans with 6 cygnets and a moorhen feeding two young. Didn’t see any young little grebes however. On the path alongside, saw a garden tiger moth caterpillar. They are really fast movers!
A very nice morning and it brought out damselfly in there hundreds, lots of Blue-tailed and Common Blue, providing plenty of food for the birds.
Found a Sedge Warbler collecting caterpillars for the young, see photo, they were late arriving this year but the young must be close to leaving the nest.
Yesterday morning it was slightly overcast but the clouds created a beautiful view of Blackcombe covered in cotton wool.
Over the last week there have been four Shelduck flying around and sometimes settling on the heather, it seems a bit late to start nesting but the whole season got off to a late start, so we will see.
Also yesterday the morning silence was broken by the sound of five Oyster catchers flying over the long pond and all calling in unison, was it one female being pursued by four males, I don’t know but they certainly know how to raise the decibels.
The swans are still doing very well and we were informed over the weekend that they had been seen on the path, and today we found them on a small pond further up the path from the long pond. The cob was enjoying a rest and lying on the grass and the pen was in the pond with the cygnets, don’t know why they are attracted to this particular pond.
The pond in the field contains what we think are Natterjack tadpoles and today when checking there was a Mosquito hatching, see photo, also there were at least six four spot dragonfly flying around.
There are lots of flocks of starling at the moment, and when the sun catches the colour of the adult they are iridescent.
In last nights moth trap, in the garden, was a Chamomile Shark, an unusual looking moth not often caught in this area ,see photos.
The orchids are starting to flower, later than usual and still not very many in the two fields which are overflowing with buttercups at the moment. There are a few beautiful Yellow Iris near the fishing pond, but unfortunately they don’t last very long.
There were a family of Stonechats near gate 2 of the airfield, these are the first we have seen since January. They cannot stand the cold weather, it’s still early and hopefully they will have more broods this year.
The Sparrow Hawk eggs have hatched but it’s not possible to view inside the nest, so we will have to wait until they grow large enough to see.