Friday, 17 April 2015

Mid-April meanderings....

Spring! It's well and truly arrived - there are signs of re-emergence everywhere!
I've recently managed to find extra time to spend at the Reserve, and been rewarded with quite a few 'first sightings'. These are always a cause for celebration, as it's good to know that things have survived the British winter, or their migration from foreign lands, as both can be equally hazardous.

This last week, among my first sightings, I've seen Small tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Brimstone, Speckled wood and Orange tip butterflies at the Reserve.

Comma (Polygonia c-album). Slightly worn.
Lots of warblers are back.They're making their presence felt (along with those birds which over- wintered) and the scrubby woodland areas and bramble patches are ringing with birdsong. I've seen and heard Chiffchaff, Willow warbler, Blackcap, Chetti's warbler, Chaffinch and Whitethroat, all of them establishing terrritories, and I'm certain that I heard a Sedge warbler around the edge of the large lake. Song-thrushes are calling, too - I saw one very near to the Woodland Hide, and heard another just off-site by the overflow carpark.
As yet the Cuckoos haven't appeared, but hopefully by the time you read this someone will have reported hearing them.  I know that they're beginning to trickle through - a single bird was reported over the Buckinghamshire hills this morning - and as long as their journeys have been unimpeded we should soon be graced by their iconic presence.

Over the last few years l've become a great fan of Hoverflies. I've only seen 2 species out and about at the Reserve so far, but no doubt there have been others around the tree tops. However, 'Eristalis pertinax' and 'Eristalis tenax' fly lower and are therefore more noticeable - these have been feeding at the gorse, dandelions and willow flowers.  I'm looking forward to adding to my records over the next few weeks.

A male Eristalis pertinax basking in late afternoon sunshine...
It's a joy to see the Sand martins again - the other evening I watched 8 birds exploring the nest holes in the Kingfisher palace. Every bird looked into each hole in a very house-hunting sort of way, and at some point two of them appeared to have decided to stake their claim and refused to move when jostled by others. It was fascinating and very entertaining, and even the sound of 3 Buzzards overhead and a pair of Kingfishers flitting across the water didn't distract me too much from the antics of these lovely little birds. (When I noticed that there were also another twenty or so Smarties feeding over the lake, I wondered if we should think about building an extension next winter...?)

Sand martins (Riparia riparia) house-hunting.....

One of my trips to the Reserve this week was to help Martin Kincaid, The Parks Trust Biodiversity Officer, show his PT Volunteers around. We went into the Centre, the hides (saw the two Shelduck currently being reported daily) and then into the Far Paddock, and heard about ideas and plans, (some of which are already taking shape such as the new Willow tit nesting boxes and Owl boxes) including grazing, re-instating scrapes, making willow screens, and returning the Bund to its original glory.
Needless to say, we all had a great morning, and those folk for whom it was a 'first sighting' fell in love with the place.  I'm sure we'll be selling more permits as a result.  
(A bonus, if we do, is that we could well have more willing and able bodies to come along to work parties, and possibly extra hands for our Open Days. Each of these lovely people is already a volunteer, and on the premise that you can't keep a good volunteer down....well....!)  
One of the tasks we did on our tour was to check the numerous new 'tin lids' for Grass snakes. A number of these have been placed in strategic places - you can't miss them as they're marked with flourescent orange lettering for easy identification. One concern that some of us have is that they'll provide yet more temptation for people to take a look underneath to see what's taken up residency - hopefully most of us will be able to curb our curiosity, and whatever does move in, or under, will be left to get on with it without undue disturbance.
Did we find a snake?  Well no, but the Bank Vole was a delightful surprise find, and carefully man-handled for the purpose of Education and Science. We learnt which feature distinguish it from the Field Vole - notably the longer length of its tail....

Bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus) and Martin Kincaid (Homo sapiens)

And finally, it's nearly AGM time again. 
On Wednesday, 13th May 2015 (put the date in your diary) you will have a chance to find out what sort of year FoHESC has had, to vote for the probable change of name, to ask questions, and to put yourself forward to join us on the Committee. 
Yes - I did suggest that! You see, we need more people, and if you would like a greater input into your Friends Group, whether it's to meet the public and show newcomers around, or help with events and to raise funds, or to help with publicity and other things, then come and chat to us. 
We meet once a month - your Committee consists of a group of friendly people who are passionate about the Reserve, just like you, so you'd fit in straight away.

And at Committee meetings on beautiful sunny evenings we get to see the sun setting across the lake....
Sunset over Linford Lake Nature Reserve, a very special place.
See you soon,

Michèle Welborn


  1. Ooo controversy clethrionomys or myodes?

  2. Ah...yes, 'the bank vole formally known as clethrionomys'! Still is, by some sources ;)