Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Monday, 21 March 2016

High 'n' dry

Once again it's that time of year when Welsh Water flings open its doors to all and sundry. Gone are the cold war years when birders were barred from Llandegfedd Reservoir - unless you coughed up for a permit from this not for profit company that is. The cost of which increased year on year without any apparent justification. Nonetheless the spirit of glasnost has now arrived in rural Monmouthshire and its open access again.

There remains a vestige of pre-privatistion times when sincere attempts were made to accommodate those interested in the natural sciences, A sturdy hide positioned on the fringe of the woodland core on the island overlooks Green Pool and once commanded good views to the east. Now an iron curtain of impregnable willow scrub prevents any meaningful view, so its now high 'n' dry, without friends to embrace its functionality as a look out post. Today its only use, judging by the cover of underfoot detritus, is as a sheep shed. This structure, so much a part of the social history of birding in Gwent could be useful again, brought back into service but only if the trees that blight the margins of this part of the reservoir are managed appropriately. Little wonder the once formidable flocks of grazing wigeon are just a memory, they simply can't access sufficient grassland!

This posting relates to Sunday 13th March when the first sunshine of the spring stirred the cockles of the heart of an aging, yet grumpy, naturalist. A momentary distraction from bootlace adjustments, I looked skywards as ten scolding fieldfare were a reminder that winter has yet to give up the ghost. The two small ponds dug for the purposes of environmental education are now a remnant of more progressive times but they still harboured frogs spawn and a number of active caddis fly cases. From the little I know about these fisherman's friends, species can sometimes be separated by the material selected for case construction. The upper image shows a caddis that's chosen a covering of freshwater limpet that's somewhat reminiscent of the Victorian shell grotto era. 

The sunshine did its best to promote a decent show of early season flowering plants. Primrose, and wild daffodil could be found with the more numerous lesser celendine. It was the celendine that seems to attract what could be found of invertebrate activity. According to my copy of Steven Falk's Field Guide to Bees of Great Britain and Ireland (2015) the small mining bee pictured below has affinities to Wilke's mining bee (Andrena wilkella).

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