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Showing posts from May, 2014

MAY-flies

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The Filter Beds are full of bird activity at the moment, particularly from those aerial species that feast on insects. This is a bumper year for mayflies and you may have seen them on the pavements around the town centre, or if you live near the river finding that they come to grief on windows. 


Wagtails, martins and swifts and even the occasional swallow, can be seen hoovering up the biomass of insects generated from the water bodies. This includes thousands of damselflies and if you look carefully you can see them perching on stands of grasses.


Seething Wells University Campus Bat Walk

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Twenty (predominantly) University staff and students gathered to participate in a campus bat walk. This is the first walk at Seething Wells and the last of the campi' to be investigated for bats. We started with a discussion of the historic buildings v. the new accommodation blocks and the merits of the Chelsea and Lambeth coalstores as potential roost sites (left to right above). At twenty minutes after sunset the first bat appeared at the back of the site where there is an strong vegetated corridor with mature horse chestnut and lime trees. This was a common pipistrelle but was later followed by soprano pipistrelles. Social calls between the two species were heard on the bat detection equipment, which had been supplied to the participants. The photos (above) indicate why it is that the campus retains its bat interest. The boundary vegetation is mature, generates and retains insects, acts as a light shield against streetlights, and offers protective cover as well as providing a b…

Dabchicks with chicks

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At first sight the expanse of water below the Portsmouth Road can look empty, but  look carefully for any of the several pairs of little grebe or 'dabchick' hiding in the vegetation. 

Often you will just catch them upending or see the remaining ring of water after one of their lengthy dives, from where it seems they may never emerge.
 Last week a member of the Surbiton and District Birdwatching Society noted that one of the pairs had two chicks. Unfortunately, today there was only one being fed by its parent. Look out for the aerial summer visitors such as swift and sand martins, the former arrived last week, and the local numbers should build up over the next few days.
Whenever there is a change of traffic lights and a temporary respite in traffic noise, whitethroat can be heard singing from the stands of Spanish broom (now beginning to flower) and other scrubby areas.

The more robust ox-eye daisies have begun blooming, although most of the banks have scrubbed over with ash t…