Ivy flowers

The reserve’s ivy flowers between September and November; each plant’s flowering season is quite short but a succession of plants flowers all through the autumn. The flowers are small, green and yellow, and so insignificant-looking that many people don’t realise that that they are flowers at all.

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Southern hawker

A late summer southern hawker photographed in the reserve last week by Clive Knight. The southern hawker’s flight period runs from the end of May right through into November but each individual dragonfly lives for only around six weeks. This one, to judge by it’s faded colours and torn wings, is approaching the end of its life.

The summer’s drought made difficulties for our dragonflies. Many of the shallow pools along the Lambrok dried up completely and the big pond, Grand Central Station for our Odonata, was reduced to a mere puddle. Not only do all dragonflies and damselflies need standing water for successful breeding, but so do their flying insect prey: nowhere to lay eggs, nothing to eat, not a good year.

EDITORIAL ERROR

While driving a website without due care and attention, our editor has managed to permanently delete all comments made after September 5th. The comments section is important, particularly while so much work is going on in the reserve, and your opinions are valuable input. Please, feel free to repost if your comment has disappeared.

Backwater

Scrapes 2 and 3 of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s ABBA project will be backwaters lying alongside Lambrok Stream. A backwater is essentially a shallow pond connected to a waterway, providing still-water habitat away from the flow and turbulence of the main stream.

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Ecosystem engineers

Ecosystem engineers are organisms that modify their environment. They increase biodiversity by creating habitat for species other than themselves. The oak apple, caused by a tiny wasp called Biorhiza pallida, is just such an engineered environment.

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One for sorrow, two for joy…

There are several families of magpies in the reserve. This year’s crop are, as yet, short-tailed, loud- mouthed and clumsy, hanging out in gangs and still learning to fly properly. But, despite their dramatic black and white beauty, their reputation is poor.

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Acorns

Oak trees produce thousands of acorns every year. Somebody has worked out that an oak tree can produce ten million acorns over its lifetime. In a good year, they carpet the ground under the tree and crunch underfoot.

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Please note that the date of the RSPB visit has changed. It is no longer scheduled for Wednesday September 14th but for Thursday 15th.

RSPB Visit

Thursday September 15th, the RSPB will be visiting the reserve. There will be a stand next to the path, somewhere near the main car park, manned by an RSPB representative, there to answer questions, discuss the organisation’s work and recruit members.

The RSPB stand set up somewhere near the sea.

The RSPB is leading a nation-wide effort to monitor and protect our birds in the face of the present climate emergency. Drop in for a chat, consider joining them: our birdlife needs all the help it can get.

Header image: immature robin photographed in the reserve by Cheryl Cronnie

Nature reserve problems

We are not the only nature reserve struggling with increased visitor numbers. Here, David Attenborough presents a twenty minute documentary about Richmond Park, showing us a biodiversity not dissimilar to Southwick Country Park’s own, and wrestling with very similar difficulties.

Please comment below. The problems of sharing our few public green spaces with our threatened wildlife in a damaged biosphere grow as our population grows, and we all need to find solutions.

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