Oysterbeds update mid June 2015 Chris Cockburn

Common tern chicks are now in evidence on the straight island in the Oysterbeds’ lagoon; but they are often being brooded by adults during the predominantly breezy and cool  conditions that are prevailing so much this year. Presently, here does not seem to be a problem with the quality of fish prey being brought into the colony; but when winds reach Beaufort Force 5 or higher, the terns do have problems in capturing the fish. Like the black-headed gulls, the common terns are at various stages of breeding; there are some with chicks, some that should be hatching soon and others that are only just starting to nest-scrape.

The biggest concentration of black-headed chicks is still on the western end of the straight island and they range from the very small to ones growing feathers. The second wave of hatching, following the tidal flooding on 05 May, is well under way on the curved island and on the eastern end of the straight island. However, there are yet many gulls brooding eggs.

The pair of oystercatchers that started nesting three weeks ago on the western end of the straight island are now nesting on the north spit of Stoke Bay, a site favoured by oystercatchers in previous years. This site is, unfortunately, prone to disturbance by people and by dogs. The eggs of the pair of oystercatchers nesting on the eastern end of the straight island are probably within a week of hatching.

Apart from Holly Blues, Green-veined Whites and Speckled Woods, the numbers of most butterfly species and other insects has been disappointingly low so far, both on the West Hayling LNR and on the Billy Trail. However, on 12 June, there were at least five Painted Ladys near the Oysterbeds on Friday last and a Small Tortoiseshell was seen yesterday.

Painted Lady butterfly Copyright Chris Cockburn

Painted Lady butterfly Copyright Chris Cockburn


Small Tortoiseshell butterfly Copyright Chris Cockburn

Many plants have had a good and prolonged flowering season and Milk Thistles on the Oysterbeds’ Mound are in abundance after recent lean years. Bee orchids are coming into bloom on the Billy Trail and at the Oysterbeds where a cluster of at least eight plants has appeared on the south bank of the mound.
Chris C

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