Working on the Wetland with Willie
Monday, January 29th 2018
Today marked Willie's first day working on the Wetland for us, navigating a 'maze' of safe passages between the ponds.
Over the next couple of days he will be working to ensure that our interconnected ponds remain interconnected, and will also be helping to remove reed mace from pond 21 to the west of the Wetland Hide.
The job is further complicated by the presence of pillwort in and around pond 16 and the northern edge of 18, which will be avoided at all cost. Despite looking distinctly grass-like, Pillwort is an aquatic fern that is a declining specialist of bare pond edge habitat.
During the late afternoon the channel of pond 8 between 9 and 10 has been cleared and a number of sluices are now working as originally intended, with the water passing over them rather than under.
Whilst Willie cracked on with all of that we continued to make ready nest boxes for the fast approaching nesting season. The pictures below show the inside of one nest box that had been taken over by wasps, with the left showing the wasp nest in situ, and the right showing the rasp marks made by the wasps when constructing the nest.
Wasps usually target weathered, untreated wood, which they will chew and mix with saliva, thus softening the wood fibres and allowing it to be gathered. This wood pulp can then be moulded and arranged into a honeycombed pattern before being surrounded by a protective case.
There were a number of individuals in the nest, with the jury still out on what species of larvae were contained within
Another group of Hymenoptera were particularly busy today; the Foxglove honeybees decided that it was mild enough to venture outside en masse for a couple of hours either side of lunch before retreating to the warmth of the observation hide when the temperature dropped again in the afternoon.
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