Posted by: llendorin | May 1, 2010

Preparing for the events of 2010

Well, it’s that time of year again, where we start running events on the reserve. This year we’re running six very different events, and I’d like to use this blog post as an opportunity to explain how we go about making preparations for them.

We have two events happening in the next two weeks or so, and it’s these events that we’ve been focusing heavily on.

The first event is for International Dawn Chorus Day, and we’re hosting it from 6am – 8am this Sunday, 2nd May.

The main preparation for this event has simply been to visit the reserve as frequently as possible. As our summer migrants are still arriving, the bird song is constantly changing right now, with new species arriving every day. Will we have all the species we’d expect for Sunday? Well, even we don’t know that yet. We’re still waiting on the last few species to arrive.

Some of the migrant species you may expect to see and hear during the event are: Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Blackcap and Grasshopper Warbler.

Of course, the migrant species are not all that’s on offer! Some of the most beautiful bird song is made by our resident species, such as the Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush or Dunnock, and we will also be listening out for these species. Who knows, we might even get our Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming in the pine trees!

Please do come along on Sunday morning. I know it’s an early start, but I’m sure it’ll be well worth it.

Now, the other event we’ve got planned over the next few weeks is National Moth Night. This one has (and still does) require significantly more preparation on our part. As moth species can change from one week to the next, we’re having to keep almost constant watch to see what species are about. In fact, we were there just last night, checking what could be found!

The event requires the use of light traps to attract and then capture the moths (for identification, then release), so we’ve needed to purchase the trap and a variety of other bits and pieces for the event. We’ve been supported by SNH in this, and for this we are grateful.

As this is a national survey, we’d also like our visitors to get involved, so we’ve been working on small ID sheets, detailing some of the species we’re likely to find. This sheet seems to be changing on an almost daily basis, with species appearing and disappearing regularly! Some species you may find at National Moth Night are (all the photos are of moths captured at Cullaloe itself!):

Water Carpet

Water Carpet

This species also has a dark (or melanic) form, which can also be found at Cullaloe:

Water Carpet - Dark Form

Common Quaker

Common Quaker

Twin-Spotted Quaker

Twin-Spotted Quaker

Hebrew Character

Hebrew Character

Clouded Drab

Clouded Drab

We thoroughly expect new species to appear in the next two weeks, so some of the above may not be there on the night. We’re also experimenting with sites for the moth trap. Trying to find the places which attract the most moths, but also remain easily accessible to visitors in the dark!

To add an extra element of interest, we’ve obtain some Bat Detectors for use during the event, through the SNH funding. If there are moths about, there are almost certainly bats about. We’re hoping we’ll be able to explain how this predator/prey interaction works and how moths are not as defenceless as you may think, when it comes to bat attacks!

We hope that anyone reading this will be inspired enough to come along to either of these events. Please also take a look at the events page (tab at the top of this page).  If these events aren’t for you – maybe one of the ones later in the year will be?

Grahame, Reserve Warden

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