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Wednesday, June 19th 2019

Whilst out checking nest boxes, members of the Swaledale Ringing team discovered these newly hatched Curlew chicks. They were still in their nest on the ground with the empty egg shells! They have done well to survive out on the open moor in the recent heavy rainfall.

Next, two young Kestrel chicks were ringed. Their primary and tail feathers were just beginning to emerge through their fluffy down. The already sharp talons are a great reminder that in a few weeks time these stunning birds of prey will be out hunting in order to survive.

Back on the reserve, Little Ringed Plover and House Martins were observed feeding at Spigot Mere. The Wednesday volunteers were busy identifying hundreds of moths from the moth trap. A real highlight was this Eyed Hawkmoth Smerinthus ocellata. You can just make out the bright blue eye-spots on the pink hindwings. When disturbed, it exposes these and sways to and fro in order to deter predators. All together eighty-six moths of forty different species were recorded.

A surprise find was in the moth trap was a Cockchafer, also known as the May-bug Melolontha melolontha. These large beetles belong to the scarab family. The adults are 2.5-3cm long, and are common. The name cockchafer means 'big beetle' in Old English.  This is another new species for the reserve.

Further discoveries were made by people attending the pond-dipping event.  Adult Pond Skaters were caught.  These are voracious  carnivores and pounce on any insect that lands on the water surface.

Thank you too to all of the volunteers who have been to the reserve this week. Lots of strimming, pruning and maintenance has been carried out as well as lots of work on the species. A butterfly transect resulted in an inpressive list including: Common Blue, Painted Lady, Brimstone, Peacock, Large White, Small White and Wall. Red Admiral were also observed earlier in the week. 

Finally, a heartfelt thank you to all of the children and staff in Year 6 from Hipswell C of E Primary School for their beautiful, well written thank you cards which are now on display in the Field Centre.

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