Welcome to another blog from Greylake, West Sedgemoor and Swell Wood after a week's break. I enjoyed my time off, being able to switch off my mind and body for a little while. I'm always surprised by how tired I feel the first week back after a holiday. You get used to relaxing very quickly! So I'm looking forward to the weekend (writing this on Friday) and I'm sure next week will be easier.
They say make hay while the sun shines, and this week, everyone seems to have been taking that advice. Across the moor, tractors have been out, cutting, raking and baling hay, leaving lots of fields looking like this.
This will provide the farmers with winter feed and bedding for their livestock, help keep the sward height low for some of our ground nesting birds like lapwing and maintain the structure of the hay meadow so more vigourous grasses don't take over.
I had a lovely walk on Wednesday morning at Swell Wood. It was a little hot but not too bad under the trees. I walked all the way down the path to Fivehead meadow, which was looking particularly beautiful. The field was carpeted with purple flowers. I'd love to tell you what they were but I haven't been able to identify them.
There was a hum of insects including bees, crickets and grasshoppers. I don't know if other people have noticed this, or whether it's just here, but there are huge amounts of grasshoppers around this year. When you walk through some fields, it's like you're stepping in a puddle, but instead of water splashing, it's hundreds of grasshoppers jumping away. Like this guy, probably a meadow grasshopper, although I'm not absolutely certain of the ID. It's definitely a grasshopper and not a cricket because of the short antennae.
As well as buzzing insects, there were also plenty butterflies, including these silver-washed fritillaries, one of our larger butterflies. This species has grown in number in recent decades after becoming quite scarce and is now doing quite well. You can see them in sunny woodland rides and edges where they stop to feed on flowers, like these brambles.
While poking about in the grass, I also spotted this rather attractive looking spider, which has been identified for me by my lovely Facebook group as a species of tetragnatha, which is a type of long-jawed orb weaving spider. They are also a stretch spider, which mean they have a habit of sticking their legs out in front and behind them. This one was indeed doing exactly that when I spotted it, which drew my attention. The idea is that it makes them hard to see. Apparently you need a microscope to be sure which tetragnatha species it is as they are very similar looking.
I had a very strange wildlife sighting this week. On Thursday I was checking the tyre pressures on all our vehicles when I spotted something on top of one of the wheels. At first I thought it was dead, but I blew gently at it to check, and it woke up. Luckily I didn't disturb it too much and it settled back down. It was this very cute little bat. I have tried to identify it and ruled out a number of species but because of how curled up it is, I haven't been able to be sure. If anyone ever knows an ID on something I haven't been able to work out, please do leave a comment either on here or on Facebook or Twitter as I'd love to know. I was pleased to see that it had gone the next day, but it remains a mystery why it spent the day sleeping on the car wheel rather than up in the roost.
That's all for this week. Check in next week for another update.
P.S. All photos by me
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