Ruby tiger moth

Another expedition into the reserve’s species lists has produced a ruby tiger moth (Phragmatobia fuliginosa) found and identified in the summer of 2021 by our lepidopterist, Hugo Brooke. This is a common day-flying moth, its adult stage so short lived, that it doesn’t feed; its only purpose is to mate and lay eggs on the ragwort, plantain, dock or dandelions on the edge of our woodland.
At this time of year, the ruby tiger is overwintering as a caterpillar, at ground level, among the leaf litter. Its blood contains a natural antifreeze which will have protected it through our recent sub-zero cold snap.

Tardigrades

Tardigrades have been found everywhere in Earth’s biosphere, from the highest mountaintops to the deepest sea  and from tropical rainforests to the Antarctic. There are sure to be some, somewhere, in the reserve’s ponds, going quietly about their business.

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Little egret

Clive Knight has spotted a little egret in Village Green this week. There is a nesting colony in the woods between Trowbridge and Bradford on Avon and egrets regularly visit the reserve, particularly at this time of year as they make their way back from their winter travels for the breeding season.

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Blackbird song

Early though it may be, male blackbirds are already tuning up ready for the spring. These are birds that were hatched last year. Inexperienced and without established territories, they have a lot of songs to sing and battles to win if they are going to breed this year.

Common blackbird song recorded by Beatrix Saadi-Varchmin (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) xeno-canto.org

Pictures from Simon Knight of the new wetland pond in Lambrok Meadow and the two new backwater scrapes. They are slowly filling in this rain. As the weather warms, keep an eye out for the pioneer plants that will move in and provide cover for the our wetland creatures.

A very early song thrush has been practising his spring song from the ash tree at Fiveways.

Song thrush recorded by David Bisset in Essex UK (xeno-canto.org)

First footing

A message from Clive Knight:

Walking round the reserve late afternoon on New Year’s Day, I spotted the first user on the newly created pond in Lambrok Meadow. The pictures are not brilliant as I took them on my phone and didn’t want to try to get any nearer as I think it would have spooked it and it would have flown off.

Mute swan (Cygnus olor) in the new wetland scrapes in Lambrok Meadow.

Cantharis livida

One of our New Year’s resolutions is to make regular trawls through the depths of our extensive species lists in order to introduce you to some of the less visible (and sometimes much less fluffy) of the reserve’s inhabitants.

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The fifth day

The 29th is the fifth day of Christmas – when we are supposed to receive five gold rings from our true loves. But few of the Friends have any use for gold rings so here, instead, is a fivefold gallery of the reserve’s goldfinches.

All pictures taken in the reserve.

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