Monday, August 20, 2012

Rutland Birdfair 2012

Another first this year, as I took a trip up to Rutland Water for the annual Birdfair.  It's somewhere I've been planning to visit for a while but only recently made the effort and what a treat it was!

 Several large marquees packed with anything and everything associated with birds and wildlife as well as a wealth of lectures and events to keep you busily occupied for the whole of the three days or as long as you decide to spend there.

Arrived on Saturday morning and spent most of the day wandering around the various stalls while playing celebrity bingo - spotting all the well known wildlife experts who were either doing book signings or giving lectures.

Great to also see the guys (and gal) from our Serbia trip earlier this year had their own stand and were also the topic of one of David Lindo's lectures.  Fantastic place and a shame the talk was so short - there is so much to see in Serbia that it really was just a quick picture tour or the trip.

David Lindo & Bill Oddie signing books.
So many lectures ... so little time.  I'd marked up quite a few and only managed to get to about half of them.  Anything including David Lindo and others that were of interest to some of the things I've been working on recently with my local conservation groups.

There were also events and talks at other stands around the site, including the Anglian Birdwatching Centre, so often a brisk walk required from one side of the site to another, passing through a marquee on the way to check out another stand I'd seen on the list of exhibitors.

Plenty of shopping opportunities too - bird related or otherwise, although I came away with just a dragonfly book, butterfly conservation membership and resisted the more expensive temptations in the Optics marquee.

There's also a good selection of food on site - simple but straight forward - burger and coffee options in various places, ice creams doing well as the weather was great and a food tent with self service and BBQ choices.  They were even open for an evening meal on the Saturday as I stayed late and gave Milan (Birdwatching Serbia) a lift back to his pub B&B and then headed to the YHA where I'd booked in for the night.  Fine if it hadn't been for a loudly snoring room mate (I forgot the earplugs).

David Lindo - Urban birding
Arrived back at Birdfair early on Sunday for round two and spent an hour in the nearby hide before the event even opened - looking out for passing migrants and waders.

An osprey put in an appearance, as did a few dunlin and greenshank.  A black tern or possibly two were in amongst the common terns on the sand banks.

Did the same at the end of the day and it was standing room only in the hide as everyone had the same idea to avoid the traffic rush.  Saw the osprey again - three this time, black tailed godwit, two little stint in with the dunlin and a distant whimbrel.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Telscombe Tye Dewpond Survey

Our first dewpond survey - it's only five months old but the South Downs National Park Authority are regularly surveying dewponds and we had the opportunity for a few volunteers to come and survey our dewpond.

They were already there when I finally made it up and just starting the survey by measuring the size and checking the water temperature and pH.

I wanted to know what the plants in the pond were in case there were any invasive species.  As it turned out, we've got a number of plants that have 'appeared' - several pondweed species, hornwort forming the large clumps and a couple of rush - spike and jointed.  Nothing to worry about.

There are a good number of pond skaters, diving beetles and larvae - no dragonfly larvae yet but it is early days and they were only able to catch what was around the edge of the ponds.  The clay around the edge is incredibly sticky.

They did manage to catch a couple of immature newts (which do look like small fish) - no newt experts to identify which ones they were, a froglet and plenty of small frogs around and just outside the pond.

They also surveyed all the plants around the pond.  Plenty of corncockle and field marigold are now out and there were a few field pansies hiding away.  There's also a stray sunflower.  Either in the seed mix or carried in by a pigeon.

We were treated to two emperor dragonflies making an appearance, a few bright blue damselflies - as yet un-identified, a lovely fresh tortoiseshell and wall butterflies.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

August - wildflowers around the dewpond

A succession of wildflowers continue to bloom - this time they're appearing on the west side of the pond too, which was a little sparse earlier in the year.

More marigolds and corn cockles starting to take over from the daisies.