Sunday, 8 July 2018

Post 487 - Eagerly Surveying Species at Eavestone

Hey everyone, post 487 is about my surveying today for the Wild Watch project.

A Common Blue Damselfly - not the Azure that I was
looking for but still very pretty.
As most of you will know if you have seen some of my earlier posts (like this one, this one or this one) I'm lucky enough to be the youth patron of this wonderful project in Nidderdale. It's given me a lot of wonderful opportunities but an important part of the project is the actual surveying that it needs done to be able to find out more about the wildlife of the area. When more is known about where wildlife is doing well and not so well the Wild Watch team will be able to work out how to help it best.

So today I set out early with Dad to go to our transect at Eavestone Lake. It's a really nice place, very quiet and tranquil so much so that we were there for almost two hours today and we didn't see another person, just lots of wonderful wildlife.
A Meadow Brown - bit bigger than the
Small Heath on my survey list

It was really warm and there were some massive splashes as we walked around the lake as some big fish jumped for bugs. There were more splashes too as we disturbed the odd Mallard and they paddled away pretty sharpish. Today I was doing three surveys: Invertebrates, a river survey and a reptile survey.

Volucella pellucens - one of the UK's largest Hoverflies
- impressive but not on the list!
Eavestone Lake is pretty much woodland all the way round, the trees overhang the water along most of the shore with a good crop of Rhododendrons thrown in too. Earlier this year we'd set out  some roofing felt squares as refugia for reptiles - they basically should gravitate to these and use them to warm up in the mornings and shelter under them too at night. Well with it being so woody there weren't many places that would get sun and sadly when we checked them today we didn't see any reptiles at all!

Garden Bumble Bee - and it is on the list!
However we had two other surveys to do. So we looked at the river survey. This was also tricky as it's hard to get to much of the shore but in one spot last year we did see some Otter spraint. We checked today along as much of the shore as we could get to but sadly this time we didn't find any. I also have to look for signs of Water Vole but again didn't see anything. Likewise for the birds on the River survey, no Kingfisher, Dipper of Grey Wagtails today. The good thing was I didn't see any of the plants though. We have to survey for invasive plants. Last year there was one patch of Himalayan Balsam but not so far this year! I wonder if it's late or just doesn't like the hot dry weather.

Helophilus pendulus - also know as Sun Fly or
the Footballer  apparently (stripy jersey?) 
The last survey was invertebrates and there's quite a few to try and see. There is one spot at the end of the lake that is alive with insects when I've been before so I was quite hopeful. So after trekking through the shade and cool of the tree lined lake before I emerged out of the undergrowth to a clearing at the dammed end of the lake.After my eyes had adjusted sure enough I could see masses of insects.

Quite quickly I found a Garden Bumblebee, one of the species on the list, at last a record for the survey! I followed a few butterflies, mostly Meadow Browns but not the Small Heaths I was looking for. There were masses of Common Blue Damselflies - I took lots of shots to check these - but no Azure Damselflies which were on the list. There were plenty of insects around not on the list but I was hoping for at least one more that was.

Nice find for the end of the survey
the Wild Watch logo - Golden-ringed Dragonfly
After sitting for a little while I could hear a faint whirring sound. I'd heard it before, the sound of a big Dragonfly. It took a while to find where it was coming from and to then wait for it to get close enough to see what it was. I had to look twice to be sure but was amazed and pleased to see it was a Golden-Ringed Dragonfly, the UK's longest insect, the Wild Watch logo and one of my favourites!

A really nice find for the end of my survey and a sort of double tick as it's on the invertebrate survey and the river survey. So I set off home hot but happy!

Hope you enjoyed,