Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Woodlarks RIP

Tuesday once again provided evidence that Woodlarks just cannot cope with all-day rain. My colleagues had found a nest with a rather feeble brood of just two young and they were of a suitable age for ringing. They checked the nest at 2.30pm and the young were ok so I travelled up after work but at 6.15pm both were dead. Although the young were known to be 10 - 11 days old they looked more like 7 so the adults were clearly struggling to feed them even before the rain.

Woodlark brood earlier this year
This evening I visited Browndown - a superb area of vegetated shingle on the edge of Gosport. It's an MoD site so there's always a risk that the red flags will be flying and you can't go in but all was ok this evening. The main purpose of the visit was to look for the White Spot moth which feeds on Nottingham Catchfly and is consequently rather rare. I've only seen it once and that was about 10 years ago.

Wandering round before dusk produced my first Dartford Warbler of the year and a few plants to examine tomorrow which will hopefully produce a few new species but I couldn't find any Nottingham Catchfly (which really should be flowering by now) or the rare Little Robin which is mentioned on the notice board at the entrance and is definitely flowering on Hayling Island. Heading back out after dark with lamp and net, I soon came across a flowering Nottingham Catchfly and, upon consulting my book, found that the flowers open at night - doh! Having said that, this was the only plant I found that was actually in flower.

I was surprised that a Nightjar started churring at dusk. Ok so there is heathland on some of the shingle but it seemed rather strange to find one on this slither of land between the sea and Gosport.

I didn't see many moths and White Spot failed to show itself (although it may not be flying yet in this late year). The main species of note were a few Diamond-back Moths, showing that some migration is taking place and about half a dozen Tawny Shears - a coastal species which I don't see very often.

Browndown really is an outstanding site, I must spend more time there.

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