A quiet afternoon at the lagoons. There were three Little Egrets, and a female Sparrowhawk, but no unusual birds about. A surprise was seeing several Long-winged Coneheads still active, on the sunny fence-posts near the river. One female was caught in the act of egg-laying. PS.
The two walks were held on Wednesday, 14th August and Sunday, 18th August, the first day there were seven people and on the Sunday only one person turned up. The weather was bright and warm on both days and so the insects were not hard to see, although the Wednesday was rather windy.
On the Wednesday the Long-winged Coneheads were plentiful and seem to have taken over most of the site and were not restricted to a few areas as they had been in the past. There were individuals of all ages, from quite early instar nymphs to fully mature adults. Many of the ones found were of the extra long-winged, macropterous, form, which is normally associated with dense populations of the insect. These are the more mobile form that it is thought spread out to colonise new areas. Also found in large numbers were Lesser Marsh Grasshoppers, which were found in a variety of colour forms. The Field Grasshoppers were much harder to find than they have been in the past, possibly due to competition with the other two orthopterans. Roesel’s Bush Cricket was not found, possibly because the blustery weather made it hard to hear, and no Slender Groundhoppers were found when we looked by the Small Gravel Pit.
On the Sunday, as there were only two of us, we decided to see what we could find on the dry end of the Slurry Lagoon. We found plenty of Long-winged Coneheads and Lesser Marsh Grasshoppers as we made our way to the Slurry Lagoon gate. Once on the slurry surface we found the missing Field Grasshoppers amongst the sparse vegetation.
Whilst looking for them we also discovered Common Groundhoppers, which were in good numbers but extremely hard to see. All sorts of colour forms and patterns were represented, but they were difficult to photograph as they kept jumping and disappearing. We again looked without success for Slender Groundhoppers by the Small Gravel Pit, but were luckier with Roesel’s Bush Crickets, which were singing along the banks of the Deep Pit.
Five intrepid orthopterists met by the footbridge at the alloted hour to see what orthopteran delights the site held in store for them. The weather was warm and sunny, just right, and a great improvment on the rain that cancelled the Wednesday walk.
As usual the first insects were searched for by the bench, at the top of the steps. Here we very soon found Meadow Grasshopper, Field Grasshopper and Long-winged Conehead. Attention was drawn to the pronotum on the two grasshoppers so that the differences in the two species could be seen. I managed to persuade a Long-winged Conehead to sit on my finger so that everybody got a good view of one.
The other main target was the Roesel’s Bush Cricket, which prefers the banks around the Deep Pit, so we set off along the south side of the Slurry Lagoon. As we progressed, opposite the railway embankment, the path was beside a wide grassy area where more Meadow and Field Grasshoppers were seen. In the brambles at the top of the bank a Spiked Shieldbug Picromerus bidens was found and several hoverflies, including Helophilus trivittatus and Sphaerophoria scripta. Further on, as we passed the Deep Pit there were Common Blue and Small Copper butterflies to see.
We were fortunate to have one member of the party who could actually hear the crickets stridulating (We have tried ‘bat boxes’ but they are non directional and frustratingly tell you there are crickets about but not where they are.), its normally a good idea to have some kids in tow to do this for you. Soon there were Roesel’s Bush Crickets being found by the bucket load. They were mainly at the top of the grassy bank as we looked towards the gravel pits and we were soon getting excellent views of them.
With the excitement of seeing so many crickets, the walk leader forgot to search for Slender Ground Hoppers, which are fairly common on the site and often found on the edge of the Small Gravel Pit. Other than that the group had an enjoyable walk and were well pleased with the insects that they had seen.
There seemed to be more insect activity today than bird. Several Long-winged Coneheads were found including a mature male. There were also plenty of butterflies and dragonflies.
During the Bird Count this morning there was an ant swarm that attracted a flock of over 500 Black-headed Gulls. There were also some Common Terns catching the ants and three Hobbies. Two Curlews stopped briefly on the Slurry Lagoon and a Green Sandpiper was amongst the Lapwings. A Little Egret was on the Large Gravel Pit with some Grey Herons and about twenty Cormorants, before joining the gulls on the Slurry Lagoon. Several Roesel’s Bush Crickets and Long-winged Coneheads were also found. On the Lower Path five Brimstones were found along with Commas, Red Admiral and Peacocks. PS.
Watch Alan’s video:
There were three Black-tailed Godwits, five Dunlin, five Yellow-legged Gulls and a Caspian Gull on the Slurry Lagoon this afternoon. Both Roesel’s Bush Crickets and Long-winged Coneheads were found and a Willow Tit was heard along the Lower Path. PS.
In the evening a juvenile Mediterranean Gull, three Green Sandpipers, a Snipe and a Water Rail were present on the Slurry Lagoon. RW.
Two Green Sandpipers were again on the Slurry Lagoon – an adult and a juvenile – resting and feeding. Also feeding along the Slurry edge was a Little Ringed Plover and among the gulls were at least three Yellow-legged Gulls. A new brood of five Tuftie ducklings were the first for the year and again along the path edges to the west of the Slurry Lagoon quite a number of Long-winged Coneheads were seen although they weren’t stridulating. JMD. PS.
Two Dunlin were on the Slurry Lagoon this morning as well as a Yellow Wagtail and five Yellow-legged Gulls amongst the Lesser Black-back flock. At least fifteen Long-winged Coneheads were by the path at the NW corner of the Slurry Lagoon. PS. AE.
A Wood Sandpiper was seen briefly this afternoon on the Slurry Lagoon, a Redshank and a Yellow-legged Gull were also present. At the north end of the Slurry Lagoon there was an Essex Skipper along with three male and one female Long-winged Coneheads.
Later in the afternoon an adult Mediterranean Gull, three juvenile Little Ringed Plovers and two Shoveler visited the Slurry Lagoon. RW.