Wildlife Diary for May 2020

Dabchick or Little Grebe
Currant Clearwing Long Buckby Allotments

30th May, Cotton End Park (CEP) is glorious. The air is filled with singing birds, and a few Butterflies are about with 2 Speckled Wood, 6 Large Skipper, 1 Meadow Brown, 1 Common Blue and several Orange-tip. 3 Small Yellow Underwing (Day flying Moth) and a new Dragon – the Emperor patrols the meadow. At the pond all is action with Chasers, Damsels, including Red-eyed, and a passing Beautiful Demoiselle.

27th May, EP has a male Hairy Dragonfly darting amongst the reed stems, and avoiding the reach of the skulking Little Grebe. Foxhill Road has a nervous Yellow Wagtail and a confidant Skylark in song. Privet Hawkmoth and Hornet Hoverfly find Linda and she gets some good images. Brian spends an afternoon at the allotments luring Currant Clearwing Moth.

25th May, so much sunshine! Bank Holiday Monday as if we needed a distinction. From the footpath at Evans’ ponds (EP), Kites, Buzzards, Dabchick, Coot, Mallard, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Goldcrest, Nuthatch and Reed Bunting. And Dragons including Four-spotted Chaser, Broad-bodied Chaser, Beautiful Demoiselle, and 5 Damsels including White-legged, which are definitely emerging from the large pond.

Speckled Wood
Green Shieldbug by Steve

23rd May, CEP has 3 singing Willow Warblers and 2 singing Reed Bunting. Alan reports juvenile Starling and Cockchafer from the wharf. There are double figures of Swift and House Martin over the village.

20th May, CEP has a patrolling male Broad-bodied Chaser, Large Red, Azure, and Blue-tailed Damsels about the pond. Terry reports 3 Willow Warblers from Patford Bridge and from the footpath to Whilton. I get told of a Bee swarm seen over the village. Wasp Beetle seen. Brian notes Fennel, Siberian Wall Flower, Flixweed, Henbit Dead-nettle, Fig-leaved, and Maple-leaved Goosefoot, Corn Spurrey, and Spotted Medick, mainly from disturbed ground by the station building site.

19th May, a quick lunchtime walk past Evans’ Ponds and a Small Copper gets up in front of me. I start to make my way home and a small pale orange butterfly jigs past. It is unfamiliar and I glance at it though the bins’. It’s a Small Heath, first I’ve seen in the parish. (Terry Laney saw one nearby a few years ago). It moves on and disappears. Is there an as yet undiscovered colony hereabouts. Cath reports Peregrine over her house, and Angela shows me a rather disturbing looking Horse-hair Worm, found in the dogs drinking bowl. Lee sees Hedgehog, and photographs Newt and Badger. Hobby over at 2100hrs.

Badger by Lee

18th May, 12 House Martin over The Leys and 2 Swifts over Watson Road. The gardens of the village are awash with young birds, and the cats and Magpies are loving it. Someone reports a ‘big red bird’ some sort of Parrot/Macaw from below the Church. Alan reports 10 cygnets of Mute Swan at the wharf.

17th May, at CEP a male Common Blue Butterfly is about Orchard B. Sue finds Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon, a thistle type flower. 2 Swifts over Grange Farm, and 2 over The Leys.

16th May, from the footpath near Evans’ Pond we see a pair of Mutes Swan, but the highlight is a Spotted Flycatcher atop a Spruce tree.

15th May, a bit warmer, 4 Azure Damsels, and still 2 singing Willow Warblers. Fiona reports a swarm of Bees in her neighbour’s garden. They bivouac for the night. The Bee’s I mean.

May Blossom
Broad-bodied Chaser

12th May, cold, windy and grey. Alan sees a hovering Kingfisher at the wharf and 2 Swift near the motorway.

9th May, Hot, sunny, I am clearing some algae from the pond at CEP. There is a teneral Broad-bodied Chaser drying its wings on the platform, 1 Yellow Flag Iris flower head, a recently hatched Cinnabar Moth, and a few Large Red Damsels. At Hanglands the Large Red’s are joined by a Blue-tailed Damsel, and we hear a Garden Warbler.

8th May, VE Day, 75 years since the cessation of war in Europe, David Attenborough is 94 years old today and Peter Spokes is 85. CEP has Mother Shipton’s Moth (named after Ursula Southeil 1488-1561, go on, look her up). Large Red Damsel’s in copulation, and still 2 singing Willow Warblers. At the end of Picnic Spinney (Hinde Barns) a Yellow Wagtail flies up from the track in front of me. Now 7 House Martins over Holyoake. Lee reports (with photo’s) Slow Worms from South Close. Brian reports Hedgerow Cranesbill, Wall Rue, Great Lettuce, Grey Field Speedwell, and Fox&Cubs, amongst others.

Slow Worm by Lee
May-bug by Alan

7th May, Alan has Kingfisher at the wharf, Gina sees Emperor Moth off Station Road, and 4 Swift arrive over The Leys. Hares reported. At home I see an Orange-tip laying eggs on a Garlic Mustard and later find 3 microscopic orange, oval eggs stuck to the underside of one of the leaves. A flower moon, the full moon of May hangs in the afternoon sky. I line up the trusty field scope and get a ‘phone shot of the surface. My mate Steve sees this and amazingly names every crater visible in the image.

6th May, 6 Martins over Holyoake. Alan sees Common Sandpiper at the wharf. Evans’ Pond has 3 Mute Swan, 2 Canada, 2 Greylag, and 2 Dabchick. Dean reports young Slow Worms and Grass Snakes from Mill Park, plus Bullfinch and Hobby.

Bottoms Up
Moon by day

4th May, I find False Turkey-tail fungi on a Eucalyptus off West Street. 2 Swifts head resolutely north over CEP at 1800hrs.

2nd May, St Georges Mushroom reported. 1 House Martin over Holyoake.

1st May, cool and showery. A Whitethroat grabs such a huge beak-full from a fluffy Reed-mace seed head, he surely can’t see where he’s going when he flies back to the nest.

Village Wildlife Diary for April 2020

Marsh Marigold

29th April, we are working on a cable fault and have to dig a section out of the ground. Up pops a huge alien shape. It is a Hawkmoth pupae the size of my thumb. A dog walk past Evans’ Ponds is rewarded with a Hobby, a summer migrant falcon. It plays with the Jackdaws but soon shoots off. On the water there is a Mute Swan, and pairs of Coot, Moorhen, and Tufted Duck, and Mr Evans reports Dabchick. After an extensive search Brian finds the wonderfully named Forget-me-not Shieldbug.

28th April, rain all day is good for everything. A young Blackbird, fluffed up and bedraggled, looks a tad dejected and would beg to differ.

26th April, a dog walk first thing sees 12 Yellowhammer, 1 Chaffinch, 7 Whitethroats, 2 Hares and a Rabbitt. CEP has 3 pairs of Linnet and Goldfinch. I find Mistle and Song Thrush with a Blackbird in the same field of view on the sheep paddock. There are several Holly Blue, a Silver-Y Moth, and an Immature Large Red Damselfly. Colin and Jane see a Slow Worm as do others, and Terry reports a queen Red-Tailed Bumblebee.

Lady’s Smock

25th April, CEP has a singing Goldcrest, 2 singing Willow Warblers and a Song Thrush.
Prolific plant finder Brian Laney finds Mousetail, a 1st for the parish and 3rd for the county. He also finds Adders Tongue Fern, Prickly Poppy, Borage, Bugle, Field Woodrush, Oxford Ragwort, Dotted Loosestrife, Knotted Hedge Parsley, Pellitory of the Wall, Round-leaved Geranium, and Red Shepherds Purse, amongst others. He also finds Toad spawn in a new pond on the Floyers Farm housing development.

24th April, There are lots of St Marks Fly hanging in the air at CEP. They are quite large, jet black with distinctive dangly legs. A Muntjac Deer and a Whitethroat are also noted. Terry Laney rings me to report Cuckoo from the Brington Road and David also hears it. Hanglands has a mature Large Red Damselfly, a Grass Snake and 2 Speckled Wood Butterflies. Also Red Campion, and Lady’s Smock are in flower there.

22nd April, World Earth Day. Alan has fledged Robins down at The Wharf, Dean reports Hedgehog from Mill Park, and Steve catches a Ruby Tiger Moth. I have a bird in the chimney at home and it refuses to go up and out or down and out. Eventually I get a cane pond dipping net and manage to force it up the pipe. The bird flaps madly showering me with soot. Carefully I push the cane up further and the bird goes up again with the resulting shower of soot. This goes on for half an hour (and the chimney gets a good clean out) but eventually it comes down and out, doing a circuit of the living room before I get to grips with it. A fine Jackdaw with that piercing sky-blue iris, and grey nape. Now where’s the vacuum cleaner.

Grass Snake

20th April, on my way to Winwick and in a field next to the road there is a pair of Canada Geese with a/the Ruddy Shelduck. The latter being this probable escapee that has attached itself to the local Goose flock. At home we find a delicate little stick thing by the pond that turns out to be a Water Measurer, an insect that can walk on the surface of water. Its scientific name is unsurprisingly ‘Hydrometra’ and it eats mosquito larvae by piercing them and sucking out their insides.

19th April, CEP has flowering Lady’s Smock, Lodge Lane has singing Greenfinch, Grange farm has singing Lesser Whitethroat, and in a field far, far away there is a cracking male Wheatear. I am there, sitting in the hedge with my field ‘scope, and manage to hold my mobile ‘phone to the lens and get a bit of video. After, a Hare lollops past.

18th April, it rains. I find a Cellar or maybe Glass Snail whilst checking the water butt.

Wheatear male
Scarlet Tiger in waiting

17th April, CEP now has 2 Willow Warblers, and a Fox. I am working at Grange Farm and see a pair of Red-legged Partridge along with the usual numerous Pheasants, but as I look, a pair of Grey Partridge creep past, purposely avoiding their larger cousins. An even better sighting is 3 pairs of Tree Sparrows.

16th April, 1 House Martin over Holyoake is a welcome sight. On Foxhill Rd, 1 see a male Wheatear on one of the posts but it soon disappears.

14th April, Alan sees 14 duckling at The Wharf, and Brian sees Hedgehog, Green Shieldbug, and Scarlet Tiger caterpillar.

12th April, someone finds a dead/ injured Polecat, Angela has a close encounter with a queen Hornet, and sees a Scarlet Tiger caterpillar, and I see a cream-spotted ladybird.

Orange-tip female
Green Shieldbug

11th April, Sue reports an Adder from Church Farm. CEP has a singing Willow Warbler, plus Chiffchaff and Blackcap. My garden has Holly Blue and Green-veined White, and the Robin in Billy’s bird box has 4 eggs. Dean reports Weasel and Roe Deer from Oak Tree Farm.

10th April, Mike reports Cuckoo from St Lawrences/Murcott. CEP has a pair of Mallard but only 1 duckiling. Brian reports Barn Owl, Shepherds Needle and Spurge Laurel, and wonders what effect not collecting Toads from the road during lock down will have.

7th April, a sunny start with 3 pairs of Yellowhammer, 1 pair Chaffinch, 1 pair Linnet, 1 pair of Reed Bunting, 4 of Skylark and 1 pair of Tree Sparrow found on an extensive exercise walk. Raven and 3 Meadow Pipits also noted. A Swallow going south(?) over Armley. Peter finds an emergent Holly Blue Butterfly, and David, and Gina see Swallows. 2 male Orange-tip, Peacock, Comma, Brimstone, and Small Tortoiseshell noted, and in the evening 3 small Bats seen.

6th April, Swallows on Lodge Lane, over Armley and on Brington Road. Angela, sees 3 Lapwing go over, 1 calling loudly. Now 2 dead Badgers at Cotton End.

Holly Blue

5th April, Palm Sunday. Chris reports a Lapwing going over, Alan, 2 Ravens at The Wharf, and I see Tawny Mining Bee and Tree Bumblebee.

4th April, Lodge Lane has an active Raven and Red Kite, with Meadow Pipits, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, and a singing Blackcap. Skylarks are also singing well.
Great excitement in the form of a White-tailed Sea Eagle tracked by satellite over the parish. ‘G381’ a bird released in an introduction scheme to the Isle of Wight, promptly heading north across the UK and passed us at a height of 521metres at 1400hrs. I wonder if anyone saw it? They are quite unmissable being massive and looking like a barn door.

3rd April, CEP has a pair of Yellowhammers and a pair of Reed Buntings collecting nesting material. The latter is taking great lumps of Reed Mace seeds, so big it can’t actually see where it’s going. Grange farm has 40 Fieldfare and 30 Redwings on the sheep pasture, plus Nuthatch and Red Kite about. At Evans’ Ponds, 1 pair of Coot hassle a pair of Moorhen, and they are both hassled by the Canada Geese. A Cormorant goes over.

1st April, in the light of the present situation I can’t summon up the enthusiasm for an April fools.

Village Wildlife Diary for March 2020

Snakes-head Fritillary
Dark-edged Bee-fly

One minute I am told that NCC is shutting all the parks in the county, and 24hrs later I hear the PM say ‘Parks will remain open…’. I can assure you that Mill Park Reserve and Cotton End Park will remain open. Please include these parks as you take your daily exercise, and perhaps re-connect with our countryside and what’s left of the wildlife there. When this is over there will definitely need to be a new normal.

30th March, a beautiful Snakes-head Fritillary flowers at Cotton End Park.

26th March, Mike and Beth see an early Holly Blue Butterfly off Lakeside, and Diana sends me a photo’ of King Alfred’s Cakes.

25th March, I venture down the footpath past Evans’ Pond and see 1 Mute Swan on the water. I hear a slight whistling and look up to see 4 more Swans going over. They circle round and 1 of them leaves the group and lands next to the Swan on the pond. Within minutes they are going through a courtship display, each bird copying the moves of the other, until they face each other and their necks and head form a ‘love heart’. CEP has 1 Greenfinch, 2 Chaffinch, 4 Linnet and a ‘yaffling’ Green Wood’.

King Alfred’s Cakes
Mute Swans

24th March, many villagers are enjoying the spring sunshine and report the following Butterflies. Mike 2 male Brimstone, Norman a Peacock, Diana 2 Red Admiral, and I see a Comma. Nicole sends me a photo’ of a queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee, and Sue, a Dark-edged Bee-fly. The first of the incoming summer migrant birds appear with a Chiffchaff in song at Stenhouse Close, and a Blackcap at Armley Close. A degree or two of warmth wakes up the Bats, and during the evening Jennifer and David report one or two small, probably Pipistrelle Bats, from Foxhill Road and Ashmore respectively. Sara manages to see, and amazingly get a ‘phone photo’ of a Stoat, and Angela reports a Hare.

23rd March, Sunny, working off Bakers Lane and two Little Owls start calling at each other. The sun brings out a male Brimstone, within another spotted off The Banks. P.M. sees me on a dog-walk leading to Evans’ Ponds. I see a small bird a few inches from the surface of the water, in the pallid Reed stumps. It ignores me and straight away I know it’s not a standard Chiffchaff. It has contrasting pale underparts and grey upperparts, a slight green tone to the wing edges, a thin buff eye-stripe, pale burnt sienna ear coverts and sharp, black bill and legs. It lacks the olive and warmer tones of our Chiffchaffs, one of which it singing behind me in the hedge. I watch both birds, for a while confirming the differences, willing the new bird to call but it stays silent. It looks very much like the Siberian Chiffchaff I have been seeing over the last few springs.

22nd march, David’s super eyesight spots 2 raptors very high over CEP. Both very Peregrine like.

20th March, clear and cold. Tom and I see a Stoat cross the road, late afternoon.

Blue Tit

19th March, back to light rain and dullness, but before work I go for a quick wonder along Lodge Lane. A Jay, Green Woodpecker, 40 Fieldfare, 3 Yellowhammer, 2 Chaffinch, and a Goldcrest are noted. CEP has 8 Redwing and many singing, Dunnock, Robin, Wren and Blackbird. Bridge House Farm Lake has a pretty pair of Gadwall.

16th March, sunny! A Skylark is singing way off, but the song washes over the village with the breeze. I’m working at Stenhouse Close and a Chiffchaff briefly sings. That’s the first summer migrant, and about on time. Back at Armley unloading the van and a Siskin goes over, calling. Mike and Nicole send me a photo’ of a Buff-tailed Bumblebee.

15th March, rain, wind, fog or low cloud, anyway Adam and I get a soaking whilst trans-planting trees at CEP, but the fog has grounded north-bond migrants in the form of 20 Meadow Pipits that feed amongst the rough grass and sheep dung in the meadow.

13th March, Alan sees a perched Barn Owl and Grey Wagtail at The Wharf, Sue has a Treecreeper in her garden, and I hear a Marsh Tit on Harbidges Lane.

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

11th March, a few queen Bumblebees and 3 Small Tortoiseshells are seen. The Mute Swans are still at Oak Tree Farm Lake. A Swallow and a Sand Martin come in off the sea in Dorset.

8th March, Sue sees a Blackcap in her garden on Lakeside. Adam, a Barn Owl at the A5, and Angela, another on the A428 junction. CEP has 3 Snipe, a Reed Bunting, Kestrel, Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers, 8 Fieldfare, and singing Blue Tit. A Seven-spotted Ladybird is noted, and a Small Tortoiseshell is caught in a web.

5th March, some late invoicing in the office and I hear the now uncommon ‘wheezing’ song of a Greenfinch. I nip out and see it at the top if a Birch tree at the end of Holyoake.

1st March, St David’s day is fine and sunny. The ornamental Cherry trees throughout the village are already dropping petals, but the Daffs, Celandines, and Aconites are loving the sun. A Robin is building a nest in my garden, there are Great Tit’s prospecting in one of the nest boxes, and Blue Tit’s in another. Jackdaw and Buzzard are both displaying in the sky, and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker is drumming away on a dead branch somewhere.