Sunday, 24 July 2011

Isle of wight Day 6-alverstone mead

I woke up this morning and realised that there was no where near enough time to do all the things I had listed. The records suggested that a reserve called Alverstone mead about 2 miles from the campsite had quite a few of the damselflies i was looking for-small red eyed and white legged plus black tailed skimmers. I decided, the weather being good that it would be worth going to today.
The riverside walk to the site is supposed to be good for them too, but sadly nothing appeared during that walk.
I arrived at the nature reserve and was surprised at how well maintained it was, with wooden boardwalks and obvious paths rather than just less muddy bits of mud as you sometimes find. I arrived at the nature reserve to find that there were lots of damselflies there, only that they were all blue tailed or azure, which was a bit annoying.
The first unusual thing I saw was a lone whitethroat on the side of one of the drainage ditches that were dotted along the a joining marsh field or whatever they call it.


The pools were well populated with blue tailed damselflies but i couldn't get out of the habit of checking each one for red eyes, which none of them had.

-Blue tailed damselfly
I made my way up the path, but it disappeared into the woods where there were obviously no dragonflies, but there was a buzzard nest around because I could hear the juveniles calling. Then out of the trees I spotted a bird hide, I knew nothing about this, none of the websites said anything about this. I went in for a closer look. I was gutted to find no seats in the hide and a large tree obscuring the view. Bad planning I though, what nutter built this. I realised a few minuets later why it had been built like this when a red squirrel entered through one of the window holes, seeing if i had left any nuts for it.
I tried to get a photo but it was too close and the light was too poor so I headed outside the hide to see what would happen. The path to the hide was way off the floor on a raised walkway and there was a decapitated tree next to it where the squirrel sat for a while, awaiting a deposit of nuts.

-Red Squirrel
Some more people arrived and it began to interact more, If you held out you hand then it would touch it to see if there was any food in it.

Eventually though it left when it eventually got the idea that we had no food to give it. I headed back down to the water, determined to believe that the fact that there were no red-eyed damselflies was mearly an oversight so i decided to leave the path and go through the wet fields in hope of finding one. On the boardwalk however I spotted this sunbathing peacock butterfly.

-Peacock butterfly

a bit further on the boardwalk there was the first and only dragonfly that i saw at the site-a common darter resting on the planks, sadly not a very approachable specimen.

-Common Darter
I walked down the small channel to the main field, which was probably a really bad thing to do as there was no path, but I was determined to see if there actually were any small red eyed or white legged damselflies. As it happened there were none, but there were a couple of other things, mainly in the bird department, but also a few butterflies, including this large skipper.

-Large Skipper

There continued to be rather a lot blue tailed damselflies, but the continued lack of different species was beginning to annoy me, I did flush a rather squat dragonfly, probably four-spot chaser but it disappeared into the brush so I was unable to re-track it down.

-Blue Tailed Damselfly
The field began to provide more things including a pheasant, and a pair of herons squabbling as they flew ungainly across the grey sky.

-Grey Heron
Back at ground level there was, as there has been in every large grassy field, an abundance of crickets and grasshoppers. This one had an unusual head shape which is what attracted me to it, but I am actually unsure as to whether it is a cricket or grasshopper. I think its a cricket though.

-Funny shaped Cricket
the buzzards had continued to call all morning but it was only now as I was beginning to make my way back to the path that they emerged from the trees, circling high before returning to the trees.

My intention was to walk to Brading and then go to Brading marshes, but as the sky grew greyer I decided to go to Brading and then get a bus to Ventnor and spend the afternoon in the sea with my family. I followed the river and the footpath as the map showed that it led to Brading, all be it some way away but manageable none the less. On the way I spotted another type of damselfly, not a new one, but beautiful none the less, a banded demoiselle.

-Banded demoiselle
I continued along the path until it disappeared and i improvised. there were bridges across streams which suggested paths, so i went over them, next thing I knew I was in a remote suburb of Sandown, not what I had been expecting. I managed to get lost here too, until I finally found a bus stop.

I had to wait some time for a bus, but eventually i made it to Ventnor. As I walked down to the sea-front I spotted a Grey wagtail on the waterfall in the winter gardens, which was nice!

-Grey Wagtail

I spent the afternoon in the sea, my brother must have drunk too much sea-water as he was sick on the way home, but he recovered and we returned to Ventnor in the evening to look for crickets.

we didn't find any big bush crickets, but my brother found this one which was curious because of its bright yellow belly.


So I had been to the site i had most looked forward to, and seen none of the species i had wanted to, but i had seen other things so I was pretty pleased.

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