The last day in May saw us making a long overdue return to Parc Slip where remarkably the weather decided to play ball. Our previous visits have seen near hurricane winds and intense hailstorms so sunshine and a light breeze made for a very welcome change indeed. First stop was the North wetlands where it’s clear that a lot of work has been undertaken in recent months to improve the habitat for breeding Lapwings. New fencing and careful management of the neighbouring meadow have all been implemented in the hope of reversing the decline in what used to be a regular breeder here, and I’m delighted to say that it appears to be working! We spotted three recent fledglings amongst the vegetation belonging to two different pairs, both of which were fiercely defending their territory from any potential intruder. Woe betide anyone straying into the meadow’s airspace as let me assure you Lapwings can be pretty aggressive little blighter’s when they want to be.
Also present on the main pool were a smattering of Tufted Duck and one Little Grebe plus families of both Coot and Canada Goose. A yaffling Green Woodpecker remained hidden but there was no difficulty in tracking down a noisy flock of Starlings over near the Bittern Hide. Both adults and juveniles alike were feeding avidly around the edges of a recently ploughed field which I can only presume had been sown with seed of some sort. They weren’t the only ones taking advantage of this feast either with a lone Mistle Thrush, several Lesser Black-backed Gulls and, best of all, eight Stock Doves all present. Sadly there was no Bittern this time around and things were similarly quiet from the new raised hide and its associated scrapes but you can’t deny that the area certainly has potential. Once nature has reclaimed the recent construction work it should hopefully prove to be very productive and I look forward to seeing how the area develops.
It wasn’t until we’d moved down to the reserve boundary that I finally had cause to raise my camera as the Robin above posed in a shaft of sunlight. Indeed the more sheltered environment offered by this area of woodland seemed a world away from the breezy grasslands elsewhere and we were soon spotting various insects and butterflies including Speckled Wood and some rather interesting ants. The latter had made their home in the rotten top of an old fence post and we watched them for a good while as they actively excavated wood and deposited it outside.
A short distance away and it was a small clump of Nettles which drew our attention, this time for the black clump located at their tops. Closer inspection revealed a collection of Peacock caterpillars and it wont surprise you to hear that Nettles are their favourite larval food source. This is the first time I’ve found any in the UK (my only other sighting was up a mountain in Switzerland of all places) and they were located in one very small area despite apparently identical conditions existing along the length of the path we were on.
Also out and about was this juvenile Robin.
Heading back up the hill we spotted our first Red Kite of the day and there were even more Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the field mentioned above than there had been earlier. I don’t know what that farmer had sown but it was clearly bringing in the crowds.