A Good Morning for Peacocks

Friday, July 20th 2018

The warm weather continued this morning, so the first thing would have been a check on the ponies to see how they had settled in their new compartment on the Heathland but this had to wait as work was going on to repair the Access Gate.  Once this was working, it was time for Lark and Taurus who were both sufficiently absorbed in the plentiful supply of grass to just raise their heads to see what was going on before returning to grazing.

Newly emerged Peacock butterflies (Aglais io) have been on the wing.  Those seen previously this year were the ones that had over-wintered in hibernation, with many looking bedraggled and with faded colours.  Not so those today which are resplendent in bright colours and eye spots.   Having spent the early Summer as caterpillars feeding on Common Nettle (Urtica dioica) followed by the last few weeks as a chrysalis, they join the Brimstones and Red Admirals seen this week.

The dry weather also meant that Colin could finish the tunnels on two of the Mink rafts.  We have designed these with hinged lids which will make it easier to see the clay cartridges in the tunnels and look for footprints of Mink (and Water Voles).  He completed the second and third new raft, so we still have more to make and refurbish a couple of the old ones.

Colin then spent the afternoon filling the bird feeders, which meant it was time for me to make up one of the clay cartidges to fit the new rafts.  These come as a kit with a shaped basket, a floristry reservoir, clay and sand.

As the basket sits in the water, the reservoir has to be shaped to fill the basket to just under 10 mm below the basket top.  This will remain wet when on the raft which will them also keep the clay mix damp enough to take footprints.  Having mixed the clay and sand with water, this was spread out over the top of the basket and smoothed ready for use in the raft on the Scrapes.  Hopefully, we'll get some results in the next few days.


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