Village Wildlife Diary for July 2019

Green Woodpecker
Small Skipper

31st July, Common and Holly Blues, Painted Lady, an odd Longhorn Beetle, and Green Woodpecker reported. Young Kestrels, and Buzzards heard and seen.

25th July, lunchtime in the garden nurturing my tomatoes, runner beans, chillies and cucumbers, and I see a 2nd brood Holly Blue. I am joined by an inquisitive Southern Hawker, and am delighted to see 2 Greenfinch. There must be 10 Large Whites about and a dozen White-tailed Bumblebees on the lavender. Out in the village there seems to be a several roaming flocks of mainly young Starlings and Sparrows generally spread over lawns and roofs. Chattering, arguing and chasing each other about. Oh to be young.

21st July, is the warmest day on record. Which is rather unnerving.

Male White-legged Damselfly

18th July, first the Parakeet, then the King Snake, now a Sacred Ibis.. with one seen in flight over sandy lane by the brilliant Gary Pullen. Talk about Global warming bringing associated exotics. Back to our wildlife, Terry sees an adult Hedgehog with 2 young off South Close. Cath finds 15 young Swallows on the wires on Brington Road, Barred Straw moth, and a nice spider, Enoplognatha ovata, no I haven’t just made that up.

14th July, after a bit of a lull hundreds of Whites and Peacocks appear, along with Comma and Red Admiral. All pristine newly hatched adults. There are even fresh Painted Lady still arriving, (or hatching locally the offspring from earlier immigrants?) A 2nd brood Small Copper is seen. 16 or more Swallows gather over Heath View, perhaps all the adults and young from the property up the road.

Enoplognatha ovata
Longhorn sp

12th July, warm and humid, the Park is a riot of flowers busy with insects. I also see a blood-red Ruddy Darter. Two Hobbies, an adult and a Youngster are soaring over Miles Lane, and this has attracted every local Swift, Swallow and Martin to mercilessly mob the pair. A true baptism of fire for the young falcon. Late pm, and I am in the garden looking at but not really identifying Moths as they come to the flowers. Silver-Y, Mother of Pearl, Small magpie.. In the air there are some vocal Swifts, a party of about 20 scream and scythe high into the sky and they are then suddenly joined by another similarly sized flock. All 50 birds now move together, long, board circles, towering upwards, their piercing calls getting fainter. Is this territorial behaviour or mutual protection for an over-night sleep out? There actually seems to be more swifts about the village this year though rather ironically there has been an internet appeal to support declining Swift populations by legislating to make builders include Swift nesting boxes within the construction process for new houses.

11th July, a lady calls me in great distress having seen a ‘large banded snake’ on the footpath next to Mill Park. I take a brief description and think it sounds like a King Snake perhaps Californian. She is rightly concerned for public safety and suggests her dog, or other dogs could be potential victims. I immediately contact my fellow Park Manager Richard, who says he’ll keep an eye out.
8th July, the butterfly count at CEP is 11 species in twenty minutes including Essex Skipper, and the Marbled Whites are well into double figures. There are 9 species of Dragons and Damsels as well, including an egg-laying Emperor. For the first time in ages I hear and see a Raven, suddenly vocal again after what seems like months. Cath and Angela also report Raven today. Sandra sees Humming-bird Hawkmoth and dozens of Butterflies at the allotments below St Lawrence’s. The holders there have been working hard this spring to improve the site for all God’s creatures.

Female Marbled White
Emperor Dragonfly laying eggs

7th July, Speckled Wood and Marbled White, plus 5 other Butterfly species reported. CEP has 2 male Black-tailed Skimmers. At midday a Hobby is gaining height over East Street whilst surrounded by a squeaking ball of 40 House Martin and Swallow. A Red Kite drifts by. A walk to Picnic Spinney and 2 Herring Gulls go over, White-legged Damsels are amongst the Nettles and there are 6 male Beautiful demoiselles holding territory along the stream. David Evans is silage making and reports a Buzzard and a Kite following the tractors.

5th July, Burnet Companion, Southern Hawker and Long-eared Bat noted at CEP, and Fiona adds Sparrowhawk and Reed Bunting. Cath notes Cinnabar, Comma and Painted Lady near Patford Bridge.

4th July, over 8 Marbled Whites at CEP, which is more than last year, plus Small Skipper, and a male Common Blue. There are hundreds of Meadow Brown. Emerald Damsel noted. Steve sees Ringlet and Azure Damsel.

Meadow Brown
Burnet Companion moth

1st July, Alan sees a Rose-ringed Parakeet (A now established breeding bird in southern England having escaped from bird collections in the last few decades) at the Wharf. His neighbour says it tried to feed from the nut feeder but ended up feeding from seed on the ground. He also reports Marbled White and Ringlet butterflies from the A5 junction and hatchling Moorhens from the canal.

So last month I listed the species of birds recorded at Cotton End Park. This was prompted by my finding a Reed Warbler singing in the hedge near the top orchard. I have been noting down wildlife all my life and normally keep my records them up to date but alas I have to admit to have made an error re, the Cotton End Park bird list. I had failed to add Tufted Duck and Red-legged Partridge, so our new total is 98. If you would like to look at the list on this website and give me a guess as to the next two species. I could offer a prize for a correct prediction.

Village Wildlife Diary for June 2019

Painted Lady

30th June, Cath sends me her end of month wildlife records, including adult and young of Starling, House Sparrow, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Dunnock, and Robin around her garden, and Willow Warbler, Nuthatch, and Marbled White whilst out and about.

29th June, very hot, and sunny.

28th June, hot and sunny. Painted Lady butterflies are almost hourly as they head North. This is already a good year for them. A Yellow Wagtail goes over the village calling. Once a daily sound of summer. I extend my lunch break (one of the benefits of self-employment) and visit Cotton End Park. The place looks wonderful, the flowers in the meadow, the myriad of greens, and the sweep of the site as it leads into the valley. I see at least 12 Painted Lady, and a Marbled White (One of my favourites), there must be 100 Meadow Browns on the wing, and freshly emerged Small Tortoiseshell and Ringlet. I find an immature Black-tailed Skimmer for the Dragonfly list.

Buff-tipped Moth
Grey Wagtail

25th June, working at Ryehill Close and there are 20 Swifts in the air, in the garden Painted lady and Scarlet Tiger, and a Red Kite drifts by. CEP has a Ringlet butterfly to add to the list.

23rd June, I hang the washing out and find a Buff-tipped Moth. They are perfectly camouflaged to match a broken Silver Birch twig, but nobody had told this one what it perfectly looks like because it sits in plain sight on an Ivy leaf. Grey Wagtail, juvenile Kestrel, and Yellowhammer of note at the Park. Terry reports Painted Lady, and Common Blue butterflies. I visit Evans’ Ponds viewing from the footpath I suddenly see a Kingfisher shoot past. First I’ve seen for years. (It turns out David Green saw it there in the morning, and Jane saw one at Mill Park around the same time)

Four-spotted Chaser
Large Skipper

22nd June, opening CEP at 0630 is rewarded by a singing Reed Warbler. Not in the reeds as you’d expect but in the Orchard hedge. I phone-record it just in case I’m wrong with the ID. A warm feeling comes over me as I realize that they haven’t occurred at CEP before so a new species for site. Reed Warbler = 96*. The evening is fine and we go back up with friends for a BBQ. We watch a Short-tailed Field Vole with her young in tow, literally. Each one of the young holding on to the rear of the one in front like a train. We see Painted Lady, Holly Blue and Scarlet Tiger, and then as darkness falls, one or two Bats.

21st June, an arrow-head Hobby, shoots straight and fast down The Leys.

Azure Damselflies
Broad-bodied Chaser

18th June, after an unseasonal cold snap normality returns with a Painted Lady seen by Angela. This butterfly is a true migrant all the way from the Mediterranean basin. Bats out as well during the evening. Jay reported, Tree Bumblebees in bird nesting boxes are causing the usual uncertainty, and 3 Grey Herons come over the Village calling.

9th June, a sunny Sunday at CEP with singing Nuthatch, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Whitethroat, Chiffy, and Blackcap. There is also one each of Mistle and Song Thrush, Buzzard, Kite, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. Butterflies; 2 Speckled Wood, Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, and Common Blue. Moths, Cinnabar, Silver Ground Carpet, and a micro with very long antennae – Nemophora degreerella. (you know you want to look it up!) Common Darter joins the Emperor and Chasers over the ponds.

6th June, at CEP, 1 male Broad-bodied Chaser, and egg-laying Common Blue, Azure and Blue-tailed Damsels. There are the young of Robin, Blackbird, and Chaffinch about. I see 8 Red Kites soaring together off the Brington Road.

Banded Demoiselle
Female Beautiful Demoiselle

1st June, a special treat for me to spend the day with Chris and Sue Ebbage. They are excellent photographers of wildlife and Sue has had dozens of her images displayed within this Wildlife Diary over the years. First stop are some ponds and woods off the Brington Road where a singing Willow Warbler may be the only one in the Parish. Dragonflies include my earliest Emperor, a Hairy Dragonfly (1st for site), Four-spotted and Broad-bodied Chasers, Beautiful Demoiselle, and 5 Damselfly species. Butterflies; Speckled Wood, Orange-tip, Common Blue, Small Copper, Peacock, and 2 Large Skipper. At Evans’ Ponds (With kind permission of David Evans), a Cormorant is circling with the (confused) Rooks above the cover, a pair of Tufted Duck, Nuthatch feeding young and a reeling Grasshopper Warbler. Cinnabar and Burnet Companion Moths are about, and Brimstone is added to the butterfly list. Dragonflies similar to last site. We take a break and see Mint Moth. And finally with kind permission of Trevor Moore we look at Foxhill Park, and hear Reed warbler, Jay and Green Woodpecker, and see a male Banded Demoiselle, a Grass Snake and several Common Spotted Orchids. What a wonderful day.

Common Spotted Orchid
Mint Moth

*If you’re interested in my species list for birds and its progression here are the last few new species recorded at Cotton End Park. Most of these are fly-overs, but count in my book.

  1. Reed Warbler, 1, 22.06.19.
  2. Great White Egret, 1, 04.05.18.
  3. Brambling 2, 23.12.17.
  4. Grey Plover 1, 19.10.17.
  5. Hawfinch 2, 09.10.17.
  6. Crossbill, 8, 30.09.17.
  7. Sand Martin, c1, 24.09.17.
  8. Nuthatch 1, 17.06.17.
  9. Grasshopper Warbler 1, 11.05.17.

Village Wildlife Diary for May 2019

Swarm at Rest
Cinnabar Moth

26th May, Billy and I on shepherding duties at Grange Farm. We walk Road Close and find the lambs. They look happy in a sea of green, green grass. We find an immature Beautiful Demoiselle, a White-legged Damselfly, and 2 Common Blue Butterflies, amongst them. Holy Blues seem to be everywhere. Hornet again reported.

25th May, at CEP there are now a hundred Azures, and Large Reds all busy egg-laying. A flash of orange is a Small Copper, hidden within a waving forest of Buttercups. I stumble across a swarm of Bees bivouacking in an Elder in the Lower Orchard. Just walk away. Hornet and Jay reported, Aaron sees a Cinnabar Moth, and Jo has Rook and Jackdaw at her garden feeder.

Large Red Damsel
Common Blue

24th May, a bit of sunshine and at CEP, Billy and I see our first Common Blue Butterfly, and a blue (mature male) Broad-bodied Chaser. Again at David’s ponds, Azure Damsel egg-laying, immature Red-eyed, Blue-tailed and White-legged Damsels. We also find two Mother Shipton Moth (Go on look it up). At Mill Park, Keith gets photos of Frog, Cinnabar Moth, Cockchafer, Slow Worm and Cardinal Beetle. PM and I’m in the garden and the Holyoake Martins shriek out, Hobby! I get less than a second.

21st May, with spring gathering pace I open CEP and have my usual check-round. A hovering blue matchstick becomes Azure Damselfly. There are 3 immature Broad-bodied Chasers, looking a bit like huge wasps. Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies are about especially by the Nettles, and a tiny, pretty moth lands near me. Small Yellow underwing. David’s Ponds have Large Red Damselflies and Comma Butterfly. Hornet reported.

The Raider
Mallard and Ducklings

20th May, Our man at The Wharf is always on the case, and sees a probable Osprey soaring over going towards Daventry. At the moment there are records of Osprey on a daily basis from either Hollowell, Ravensthorpe, and/or Pitsford Reservoirs.

19th May, the ancient ridge and furrow field at the back of St Lawrence’s is a favourite of the dog-walkers, and holds a lot of wildlife. The extended evenings have brought two reports of Barn Owls hunting there. It’s good to have such places around the village and thanks must go to farmers J C Jackson, particularly James Jackson for allowing access and retaining this beautiful field for the good of our community, and wildlife. A walk along the footpath below Oak Tree Farm and alongside the Ponds created by David Evans is always a treat. The Covert is alive with bird song and the pond has Canada Geese with young, a pair of Tufted Duck, as well as the usual Mallard. A surprise is the attempted landing of a Cormorant, and 2 Greylag Geese flying over. I hear my first Garden Warbler, hear Great-spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, and see a Tawny Owl being pursued by noisy Blackbirds. 2 Brimstones and a Red Admiral noted.

Small Copper

15th May, the Moorhens are fussing over two tiny, back balls of fluff floating on the pond at CEP. The chicks are fresh out of the nest, and seem so vulnerable. There are fledged Blackbirds, Robins and Long-tailed Tits. Swifts appear and a family of Lesser Black-backed Gulls drift over. More road kill Badgers, Foxes, (though not many Rabbits) reported, and more reports of the killings of cats and Magpies.

12th May, how stubborn the Ash are, not a sign of leaf on some of them. What are they waiting for? A huge queen Wasp is lumbering up the High Street. The colony of Masonry Bees is hard at it on Miles Lane, such activity, and busy-ness. A male Greenfinch is singing in Clifton Close, and there is a squashed Hedgehog on Station Road.

Rook and Jackdaw

11th May, 10 Swifts appear from high up and come racing in over the roofs tops. At last you’re here! Holly Blue and Orange-tip, Whitethroat and Magpies in my garden. The Magpies are busy decimating the young birds. They find the Blackbird nest in our garden and even though we are tuned in to the alarm calls, are too late to save the first chick. So one down, three to go. We are successful in driving the Magpies away on several occasions even at 0600hrs one morning. They strike again though and another is taken. We are down to two and then they fledge, but we see just one. The Blackbirds try again in a new place even nearer the house. Good Luck. Billy and see a pair of Tree Sparrow whilst walking the dogs.

8th May, 8 House Martins over the village, and Jim sees a Yellowhammer in his garden off The Leys. Peter Spokes sees a Lapwing over Grange Farm. Big Dave finds a tiny black spider, and Sue photographs Hare and a Sparrowhawk.
5th May, International Dawn Chorus Day. I have 20 odd villagers standing in a circle in Mill Park at 0500hrs. It is about 2 degrees but they stand still and are quiet. We listen and I paint a map in people’s minds of positions of singing birds and what species they are. Time flies by and we clock up 23 birds seen and heard before half six, then drink coffee and eat cakes. A Swift over Market Place, Ladies Smock in flower at CEP, and Alan reports Otter from Welton Marina.

4th May, cold morning, and 3 Mute Swan flying over make it feel colder.

1st May, I’m at Long Buckby Infant School and have a sea of smiling faces in front of me. We talk about pond creatures, Dragonflies and the myriad of life in fresh water. Ian reports seeing a Golden Pheasant at West Haddon.