Thursday 20 June 2013

Shelducks and Burnets

 I got up early this morning expecting to find everywhere wet with rain but it was dry, pleasantly warm and almost sunny so I set off for the reserve at 6.00 in case it did come on to rain and despite being a bit murky down there it was really pleasant. It is now raining as I wrote this at 11.30.
I took the photo of the delightful Shelduck ducklings whilst walking round the reserve yesterday, alerted to their presence by the two parents running in different directions through the meadow, trailing wings, in order to distract me.
The photo below is a tad misty due to the humid condition on the reserve this morning but it shows the grass slopes part of the reserve that lie down below Harty church. The trees in the distance are around the Ferry House Inn. I have raved about this stretch of the reserve before due to it's wild flower meadow appearance during the summer months and it's ability to attract lots of butterflies and moths, particularly 5 and 6 Spot Burnet moths. During this last winter/early spring these slopes were the winter quarters of several bulls which as well as grazing it down, also left considerable hoof prints in the waterlogged soil. I wasn't too optimistic about it's recovery for the wildlife this summer and haven't been along there for a few weeks but a visit this morning was quite joyous. Not only are the grass and flowers re-grown to knee height but countless Burnet moth chrysalis's were everywhere on the grass stems.

To find all those chrysalis came as a real delight to me, I assumed that they would of over-wintered on the grass stems and so been grazed off. Looking up the moth when I got home it turns out that the larva over-winter in the base of the grass and and then climb new grass stems in the spring to pupate, so nothing has been lost by the grazing at all.
The chrysalis below, judging by the dark shape inside, is close to hatching out the moth.

Most of the chrysalis were of the yellow colour below (excuse blurring) and I imagine they are the most recent ones.

On the saltings at the foot of the grass slopes, one of my favourite wild flowers is currently in bloom, Thrift (Armeria maritima). I can never resist featuring this flower every year, it always reminds me of the saltings and the seashore and our combined history out there.


  1. What beautiful ducklings! And fascinating details about the moth chrysalis.. every time I read your blog I learn something new, thanks!

  2. Well thank you, it's not often that I get comments, let alone praise. I'm so happy that my blogs help you understand and enjoy what is going on out there.