Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Sandwell Valley - August

I was back at Sandwell Valley on Sunday, volunteering in the hide - we were a bit down on volunteers so I spent the whole day in there but I didn't mind missing out on a walk around the reserve, as there were some rather abrupt heavy showers in the morning! Always like being in a hide in the rain, a nice cosy feeling. The weather didn't put off looooooads of House Martins though, they were out in force over Forge Mill Lake, along with a couple of Sand Martins. Swifts were conspicuous by their absence though! Bird-wise, things were as expected for the time of year, pretty quiet. Highlights included a few Kingfisher fly-bys and a passage Common Sandpiper who'd been loitering for a while, it kept popping up here and there occasionally. It was also nice to see two watchful female Tufted Ducks doing very well with their creche of nine chicks - whilst on the water it was impossible to count them as they were constantly diving and resurfacing, but once they came out onto the island for a preen and a rest, we got a good look!

I know there are only eight Tuftie chicks here. This was before the last and smallest one propelled itself out of the water at high speed to join the rest!
Also amusing us with its antics was a very officious male Mute Swan who was very keen to round up and herd a large group of juveniles to a certain part of the lake, for reasons unknown.

The juvenile Mute Swans paddling with some urgency past the hide......
.....followed seconds later by this big fella.
I found some more plants to try and identify:

For some reason I thought this might be something different, but I think it's just our old friend Common Bird's-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus).
Growing in the damp area under the hide swingbridge, Water Mint (Mentha aquatica).

Loads of this in the grassland areas on the way down to the marsh screen, Great Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis).

Another one growing in the damp area under the hide swingbridge, I was very intrigued by this one! After some umming and aahing I've decided it's Water Figwort (Scrophularia auriculata), due to its location and more rounded leaves (you can't see them in this photo - but I did check them!)
There were plenty of butterflies around, including Large White, Gatekeeper and these two:

Peacock (Inachis io).

Small White (Pieris rapae).

With all the House Martins around, I thought I'd have a go at drawing some - my efforts leave a lot to be desired though! Was a bit happier with my wonky/jaunty Common Sandpiper, would have liked to have done more but it disappeared and was not to be seen for the rest of the day. I spent some time on the Lapwing and quite like it although the legs are pretty shonky.

Sketches of House Martin, Common Sandpiper and Lapwing.

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