Weekly walk, April 22 2015

Pond looking south

Another sunny day, after another week without rain.  I expected the level of the pond to be down, but the dipping platform is still partially submerged.  With a new rabbit spade, courtesy LB Lewisham Ecology Officer, Nick Pond, I was on a mission to dig out cherry laurel.  One succumbed, but I kept seeing more.  And also Japanese knotweed which looks to have spread to the other side of the path, where some soil has been dumped.

More cheerfully, a Speckled Wood butterfly and a Holly Blue stayed still long enough for my camera.  The Holly Blue needs both ivy and holly – and these we can do.  I also noticed various other insects, but I can’t identify them.  One was enjoying the sunshine on a dandelion, another risking live and limbs – all six of them, inside the bloom of a newly opened arum lily.  Others I saw flitting about, but my camera could not catch them.  I wondered what summer bird visitors we have exploiting the supply which the pond must provide – one for Paul, our unofficial bird champion.  As I walk round, I hear birdsong, but I can rarely say what species it is making them – but he can.

Thanks to a comment from Tom Moulton, another local birder, who led a walk which included Dacres Wood last month,  I’ve been thinking about the ecology of arum lilies – of which we have many, and apparently many more than some years ago.  Their berries are poisonous to us, but not to birds, such as stock doves which we have here, and it is likely they are spreading them.

I was thinking of this when I noticed an area with a lot of bird droppings, and thought it must be right under a large bird nest, but failed to see anything.  I then looked further, and saw more a bit further away, in the direction of the pond.  I suspect now this was a flight path from the parakeets’ nest in a hollowed oak noticed earlier, just outside the reserve.

I also took a rucksack to carry picked litter, feeling I’d done enough when it was filled, mainly with some old boards – and I was also carrying an old car tyre.  Another board I left, because on lifting it I could see it was making its own micro-habitat, with small toads scurrying away (they get less agile as they get older).  There was also a newt, but less easy to see – in the photos I show the picture adjustments I needed to make to see it clearly.

Finally, our toad tadpoles, are looking happy, lining up along the stalk of a rush.

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