Village Wildlife Diary for August 2019

Green-veined White
Lime Hawkmoth caterpillar

31st August, 0730hrs. By the picnic benches I find dozens of pieces of litter, including beer, cider and wine bottles and tins, plus sweets and take-away wrappings. I guess it’s the same group of youngish villagers who love to come up to the park but simply don’t care about what they leave behind. I hope they grow out it, and don’t let their offspring do the same. Trouble is I’m not sure they will. Having created a community park, a ‘public’ space, littering and vandalism by a minority is sadly par for the course. I shouldn’t get precious about the thousands of hours of volunteer labour that goes into keeping Cotton End Park successful. There are oh so many positives. I collect all the litter, all the tiny bits of broken glass, and beer tops, every last bit, so that today’s visitors can enjoy themselves. The sun shines, though its cooler this morning. A Robin sings.

30th August, Daniel and I are preparing the Orchards for mowing and see a pristine Comma, also Red Admiral and Common Blue. At the pond a male Reed Bunting is seen for the first time in ages, and a noisy Raven goes over. Adam sends me a photo of Lime Hawkmoth caterpillar. Alan hears a Tawny Owl (or two) at The Wharf.

28th August, 0500hrs and a Little Owl is sitting in the Plumb Tree calling. I listen but hear nothing reply to it other than our Jack Russell. A few larger, well-marked Hoverflies are about from the Volucella family. Both Inanis and Zonaria noted (This news is due to having a new field guide and a good stand of Lavender to hand)

Emerald Damsel
Frog

27th August, Mike sees Froglets no bigger than your thumb nail. Old Lady Moth reported, plus big House spiders. Grey Wagtail noted, and over the space of 2 hours, 3 different Painted Lady Butterflies seen to be heading purposefully south. A Wheatear is still on the bale stack in the field next to Foxhill Road.

26th August, it feels right for migration and I attempt to re-find last night’s birds. I find 2 Wheatear and 1 Whinchat. (Richard comes along to have a look, and Sue gets a photo. Thanks Sue). The field also has Skylark, Yellow Wagtail and Tree Sparrow, as well as 2 Hares. Brilliant. I go out again in the afternoon and chose Oak Tree Farm via the footpath between Murcott and Foxhill Road. Again lots of bird movement in the hedges with Warblers including 6 Willow Warbler of note. I see a flash of orange and know it has to be a Redstart and sure enough, after I change my position by jumping the stream, a female/immature shows well. Near Davids pond’s, I see 2 Brown Argus, 3 Common Blue and 2 Small Copper Butterflies, along with Red Admiral, Peacock, Painted Lady, and Speckled Wood. Not forgetting the pond itself, and 20plus Migrant Hawkers, dozens of Small Red-eyed Damsel, and a few Southern Hawker are all noteworthy.

Peacock
Wheatear

25th August, early visit to CEP and the park is full of birds. One each of Green Woodpecker, and Great Spotted Woodpecker. 2 Mistle Thrush, 8 Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, a handful each of Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Yellowhammer, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Great Tit, and Blue Tit. 2 or 3 each of Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Stock Dove, Robin, Dunnock, and Treecreeper. And there are several birds I don’t identify. Then this happened. I flush a bird from the zig-zag in the Orchard. Frustratingly it doesn’t call but I see it is a species of Pipit and follow it in flight to where it lands, which is in a big Ash at the bottom of the access track. I get down there but can’t initially re-find it. After a minute I think about getting back to work and as I move, up gets the bird calling furiously, ‘Sbeezz!’. A Tree Pipit. Cotton End Park’s first and number 99 on the Park bird list. Late afternoon and I’m scanning the bale tops for passage migrant birds and come across 3 Wheatears on a tall stack of big bales next to Foxhill Road.

24th August, a hot afternoon is good for insect activity and the park hosts 7 Butterfly and 7 Dragonfly species. There is a fly-over Yellow Wagtail, and a Yellowhammer. Harvest is in full swing and air is full of dust. Red Kite and Hare are reported.

20th August, Richard reports a Wheatear from the Brington Road. More reports of Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillars, and Geri sends me a photo’ of Privet Hawkmoth caterpillar.

15th August, several sheep in the wildlife area at CEP. They are not mine. I stick my head through a gap in the boundary hedge and find our farming neighbour’s fence hasn’t been maintained since the first moon landing. There 70 odd Swallows and House Martins over the pond feeding and drinking. I see Southern Hawker, its smaller cousin the Migrant Hawker, and Ruddy and Common Darter. There also a lone Small Copper.

odd find
Privet Hawkmoth caterpillar

12th August, Jane finds an Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar, Cath’s friends find an exhausted juvenile Black-headed Gull. Bats reported from Pytchley Drive, and Church Street. Alan finds a pair of severed Crayfish claws. Something has had a meal and left the hard bits.

10th August, sun, rain, wind, cloud, sun, rain, strong wind, sun… The gusts are exciting and no bird dare fly. A Southern Hawker carries on as usual.

9th August, near Floyer’s farm with Cath and we see 3 Ravens. I unlock CEP and find a Brown Hawker patrolling the car park. The place is humming with Orthoptera, Roesel’s Bush-crickets, Common Field and Common Green Grasshoppers.

5th August, heavy rain has brought out a few fungi, big white Horse Mushrooms appear. The Blackbirds are making a good job of stripping the unripe berries off my Rowan and also my Yew is being constantly de-berried. I see 2 Willow Warblers off Grasscroft and a Meadow Pipit goes over. Another Willow Warbler awaits me in the garden as I return from work. Calling constantly, a sweet, up-slurred, ‘hu-eet’.

Male Black-tailed Skimmer
Roesel’s Bush-cricket

4th August, Steve has Southern Hawker in his garden.

3rd August, at CEP at least 5 Willow Warblers and 3 Chiffchaff, all very vocal, are with the resident Goldcrests and Robins along the right-hand boundary hedge. They are joined by a dozen Long-tailed Tits, and a Treecreeper. There still lots of Meadow Browns, 5 Painted Lady, a handful of Common Blue males and the brown and blue females, Gatekeepers, Small Skippers, Speckled Wood and Peacocks. There is also an old male Black-tailed Skimmer. Hanglands has a worn out Ringlet, a pea-green and sky-blue male Southern Hawker, and we find a Grass Snake whilst strimming.

2nd August, juvenile Bullfinches lack the colour and black cap of the adults and I watch 2 stripping the crunchy seeds from a Dock inches from the ground. I step forward and 40 Goldfinches get up from the downy heads of the Thistles. This flock too contains youngsters with a plain head lacking the black and red of the adults. I notice the Swifts are not there. The Swifts have gone. Just upped and left.

1st August, I run out and scan the skies above Armley, The Leys and Holyoake, for Swifts and phew! yes they are there, along with some House Martins. Jennifer reports dozens of Painted Lady, Red Admiral and Peacock from her Buddleia, as do others.

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.