Trio of egrets by Christine Whiffen
Reports and a Bit of Garden Wildlife
Over on Ivy Lake the bittern was seen on the edge of the reeds near Ivy North hide, viewed from the screen along the path between Ivy Lake and Rockford Lake.
I was not at Blashford myself so my wildlife sightings were restricted to my garden and especially the moth trap, a mild, calm, damp night resulted in a good catch of autumnal species.
The angle shades is perhaps the moth most adapted to hiding in piles of dead leaves and a species that can be seen as an adult all through the year.
The dark sword-grass is a migrant and although they can turn up at almost anytime, they are much more frequent in autumn.
Whilst some autumn moths are yellow, to hide in autumn leaves, others just go down the very dull and unobtrusive route. The deep-brown dart is one such species.
Feathered ranunculus is an autumn species that lives mainly around the coasts on cliffs. It colonised the mainland coast of Hampshire in the late 1970s. I remember this well as I was working at Titchfield Haven at the time and caught a number of them, indicating that they were established on the mainland and not just wandering from the Isle of Wight.
The southern chestnut was first discovered in Britain in 1990 in Sussex. At the time it was considered that it had previously been overlooked. This may be so, but what is certain is that it has increased greatly since and is now quite frequent across the New Forest heaths and similar habitat elsewhere in southern England.
Other species in the trap included large yellow underwing, lesser yellow underwing, lunar underwing, willow beauty, shuttle-shaped dart, black rustic, turnip, sallow, pine carpet, spruce carpet, cypress carpet, square-spot rustic and broad-bordered yellow underwing.
I have recently found a new species in my garden, a most unusual plant, called yellow dodder. The dodders are parasitic plants that have roots only as small seedlings and once their tendrils have found a host they tap into the plant to gain all their nutrients and do away with their own roots. There are native species of dodder that can be seen on gorse and heather plants, especially in the New Forest. Yellow dodder is not a native and comes from the Americas, almost certainly with bird seed and most likely in nyger seed. This plant was climbing up a self-seeded nyger plant, supporting this idea.