Village Wildlife Diary for October 2018

Rook

Fox

31st October, on the way back into the village from the Northampton Road and a large falcon drifts overhead into the air space above Cotton End. I park the van, jump out and watch it go south-west over Ashmore and the Brington Road. A female Peregrine. As always the Crows, Rooks and Jackdaws that any other time are happy to hassle all other raptors are completely absent from the sky. You don’t mess with a Peregrine.

27th October, frosty, cold but sunny. 4 Moorhens sit on the bowed heads of the Reed-mace soaking in the weak warmth. Rooks and Woodpigeons are in the air.

22nd October, it can’t get better than this… I am about to leave CEP after checking for litter etc when I see a chap leaning on the gates looking at the view. I turn to get in the truck to come home but glimpse a pair of binoculars around his neck. I can’t resist ambling over and asking if he is ‘into’ birds, and he says he is. During a bit of a chat he says he had a Wryneck in his garden last spring (03.05.17). That would be brilliant, another first for the parish and another rare bird for the county. Better still he says his wife has a video of it! I am invited to pop and have a look, and there on the screen is a Wryneck, searching for Ants on a front lawn on Kingston Close.

21st October, There is a Common Darter basking in the sun on the sheep shed. Olive grey with age it is surely the last shout of summer. Clear skies have Skylarks and a Raven, and a big, slow queen Hornet glows orange in the low sun. I am with a gathering of well-wishers at a garden party off East Street, when the ever-observant David shouts ‘Is that a Cormorant Nick?’ I spin ‘round to see a Gannet cruise gracefully overhead. I am gob-smacked. Gannets are true seabirds spending their lives out at sea and breeding on distant islands. They are huge with long thin wings and a long missile-like body, and if you’ve been out on a boat around the coast of Britain you may have seen them diving from height into the sea for fish. It is a first for the Parish and I contact the county recorder.

20th October, yesterday’s thrushes seemed to have dispersed and are replaced by dozens of Goldcrests. There are mixed flocks with Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Blue Tit and Treecreeper. At 1150 The Rev Collingridge sees a Hummingbird Hawkmoth on Honeysuckle at Hall Drive. A visit to Hanglands and we creep up on a Hare that sits in the wood motionless and well camouflaged in the leaf-litter between the trees. He is there most winters and I rarely disturb him. Donna reports Red Kite roosting in a tree off The Banks.

Moorhen

Mandarin

19th October, it’s frosty, foggy then sunny. There has been an arrival of Thrushes, CEP has a handful each of Redwings, Blackbirds and even Song Thrushes are just into Double figures. Out of the Haw laden Thorns come 3 Fieldfare, and over the hillside comes a Mistle Thrush. 5 Thrush species in less than an hour. A Snipe and a Moorhen are seen and singing Chiffchaff and Goldcrest are also noted. I read that Hares are being found dead from a strain of the disease used to kill rabbits. I’m sure this isn’t the intention of the people who use this virus for rabbit control, but it just goes to confirm the vast ignorance of humans when it comes to playing God.

14th October, as a contrast to yesterday it rains all day. I open the Park as usual and walk through the double gates and stand quietly in the rain staring at the outstanding view of our countryside. We need this wet, and the warmth will bring out the Fungi.

13th October, unusually warm and the Ladybirds are, I think, trying to find places to hibernate. There are Butterflies and Hoverflies, Bees and Wasps, and a big slow Hornet is noted. A cluster of Mushrooms in the garden are new. I pick one and have a good look. It’s brown with yellowish gills and smells lovely. I quote the book ‘although widely eaten in Eastern Europe, the Brown Roll-rim contains a poison that accumulates in the body and can cause death’. Nice.

10th October, Mike and Sally find a Beautiful Plume Moth, and I don’t know if this species has occurred before in the parish. Jane and Dean report 3 sightings of a Mink off Foxhill Road. Alan Webb sees a Mandarin drake in his garden at The Wharf. These exotic ducks have occasionally wintered there on the Canal and are worth a look at.

9th October, working on The Chase and a Redpoll, 8 Skylarks and 10 Redwings go over. It is warm and dozens of Harlequin Ladybirds are wizzing about. I see Brimstone, Peacock, Red Admiral and Small White around some flowering Ivy. I’m washing up in the evening and from the light of the kitchen see something flapping around in the garden. I think it’s a big moth so nip out with the ‘phone torch on to have a look. It’s big for a moth and I soon realize it’s a Pipistrelle Bat. It comes within inches of me, and for two minutes or so is hovering and swooping only a foot from the ground. (Don’t worry I did finish the washing up).

Long Tailed Tit

Harlequin Ladybird

8th October, Winter arrives in the form of Redwings. Small flocks over the village and the Park are accompanied by one or two Skylarks. (I saw breeding Redwings in Northern Norway this summer and they come to the UK, along with Fieldfares and many other species to avoid the harsh continental winter) A big Crane-fly is trussed up in the web of an ever-growing Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus, the later word meaning cross-shaped mark – as seen on the abdomen), and reports of the ‘big hairy one’ (Tegenaria gigantean) are on the increase. CEP has 3 Blackcaps, 6 Chiffchaffs, 2 Mistle Thrush, and a rolling, squeaking flock of Long-tailed Tits.

7th October, we’ve been planning to replace some of the assault course equipment at the Park with some play items for younger children, and this weekend saw us on the digger and dumper removing posts and concrete and preparing the ground. I’m sure that Red Kites can smell fresh earth as one appeared overhead and had a look. The local Rooks did not welcome such attention and noisily had at it until it moved off.

4th October, the farmers are making a beautiful job of harrowing and rolling the fields around the village and this activity does not go unnoticed by the gulls and corvids (members of the Crow family). Over 400 Black-headed Gulls swirl like a snow storm around the tractor off Foxhill Road. I see this as a local wildlife spectacle and check the flock for the ages and plumage, and for anything odd. And there it is. I see a glimpse of patterning that suggest another species maybe Common Gull, but it disappears in the melee. Persistence pays off and the said bird comes into view landing on the edge of the flock as the tractor heads away. A first year Mediterranean Gull. The last one I remember seeing in the parish was October 2004.

1st October, for the sake of the list I revisit CEP and see the Stonechat. I wonder if it will stay? At dusk I’m walking along Station Road to our LBGS committee meeting and hear the call of a Green Sandpiper. It calls several times and I think there may be 2 birds. Anyway if you were out that evening and saw a chap standing in the road looking upwards for no apparent reason, now you know.

Village Wildlife Diary for September 2018

Red Kite

Red Admiral

30th September, Sunday work party at the park sees us clearing the water course to aid the stream on its journey. We are rewarded by close views of a young female Stonechat, 2 Reed Buntings, Red kite, calling Goldcrests, Small Copper, Red Admiral, and a Hornet.

29th September, I see a Song Thrush with a Blackbird in the horse paddock behind Lime Avenue. There are one or two Goldcrests in the hedges, and the Robin is singing well. A Nuthatch at CEP is rare and another Snipe is seen. Distinctly Autumnal though the Chiffchaffs are hanging on. Dean reports a Yellow Wagtail.

Big Bad Slug

Comma

27th September, Hares reported from Foxhill Road and Brington Road. Richard sees a large flock of Starlings, and a Grey Wagtail is noted. Yellowhammer and Linnet noted.

18th September, 0800; Storm Helene brings wind but oddly a Southern hawker is the only thing flying! Later 200 Wood Pigeon, 100 Jackdaw and 20 odd Swallows are mixed up and amongst it, and fill the sky with uncontrolled movement, and little direction.

16th September, big Spiders, Bats, and a Tawny Owl all reported. A sprinkling of 20 Meadow Pipits are overhead, above them immature Lesser Black-backs are drifting.

Southern Hawker

Grey Wagtail

13th September, Jo (Syers Green) and Anna (The Banks) both report Sparrowhawk action from their gardens. Clear skies prompt some movement as Gulls, Meadow Pipits, a Mistle Thrush and a Yellow Wagtail all go over within half an hour. At CEP, a Grey Wagtail comes in and sits on the pond weed not far from a Moorhen (you’re right I didn’t have my camera). After a dry summer without a Mole. One is now back and active amongst the picnic tables, and some fungi are appearing.

9th September, migrant birds are moving through and another Spotted Flycatcher, this time a juvenile is with a Willow Warbler by the spring at the park. I return later for some warmth and get Common Blue and Red Admiral Butterflies. Gina sees a Meadow Grasshopper, and we hear Roesel’s Bush-cricket.

8th September, I might be going mad as I see a male Redstart where yesterday’s Robin sat. Lots of birds about and the Ravens are beginning to call again. Jo has 14 goldfinch and a Greenfinch on her feeders.

Hobby

Migrant Hawker with Fly

7th September, cold and sunny, perfect for me. CEP has 3 Blackcaps scoffing Blackberries, and 2 Chiffchaffs (one singing). A juvenile Robin sits where I would like to see a Redstart, and a Young Buzzard is being toyed with by 2 Kestrels. I step towards the pond and 2 Snipe get up and zig-zag away. Fairly early record for here I think.

4th September, the elusive Hobby is seen in action over High Stack harrying the House Martins and Swallows. Normally fairly high up, this time it cuts down to roof top height and slices through the panicking flock, turning up Hall Drive in a selected pursuit. A mixed flock of 50ish Martins and Swallows over Rockhill Road, and Station Road may be generally moving south. Jo reports a juv’ Sparrowhawk and a Partridge sp from her garden in Syers Green.

Speckled Wood

Hornet with Damselfly

2nd September, Hornet reported alongside comments on the numbers of Wasps. Sue sees a Hornet attack and kill a Damselfly. Speckled Wood, Peacock, Comma, Small White, and Holly Blue reported from the village. Southern Hawker seems to be enjoying the village gardens, and the smaller Migrant Hawker and Common Darter are seen in gardens on Rockhill Road. CEP pond has a dozen pairs of Common Darter egg-laying and a single male Emerald damselfly. I get to about 15 Speckled Woods which must be a new maximum.

1st September, I open the park as usual and as usual check the sunny hedges in and around the green space. A distant speck is fly-catching from a fence post and as it flicks out to grab a fly a broad brick-red tail is momentarily fanned and closed. A Redstart. Other birds enjoying the morning sun include Lesser Whitethroat, a handful of Chiffchaffs, perhaps 2 Willow Warblers, a Coal Tit, 3 young Blackbirds, and 30 Starlings.

Village Wildlife Diary for August 2018

Emerald Damsel

Willow Warbler

28th August, a Little Owl calling behind Lime Avenue and a Devils Coach-horse Beetle in the garden. More reports of Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillars, and a lady saying her cat is bringing in lovely pink and green moths (adult Elephant Hawkmoths!)

27th August, a day of hard work but great fun at the Long Buckby Feast. Lots of visitors to the Long Buckby Green Spaces stand, with Cotton End Park and Mill Park volunteers busy all day. I talked myself hoarse with my wildlife guessing game and pond life display. Many thanks to all concerned, it was just brilliant, and of course raises money for village groups. What a great community we have, dozens of selfless villagers working for the good of us all.

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

Blackcap

25th August, CEP is again full of birds. A big mixed flock by the spring with 1 Greenfinch, 2 juv’ Bullfinch, 8 Chaffinch, 5 Goldfinch, several Long-tailed, Blue, Coal, and Great Tits, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, ones and twos of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat. Nearby were Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, 5 Linnet, and 2 Swallow. This makes up for the days when don’t see a single bird!

24th August, CEP has less litter so I do more birdwatching. Coal tit, Mistle Thrush (9) and 3 Willow Warbler are of note. Going over are 1 Common Gull, 2 Black-headed Gull, and 1 immature Lesser Black-backed Gull. The pond has 2 juv’ and 1 adult Moorhen and a dark bodied Darter stops me in my tracks. As dragonflies mature their colours often darken so although nearly sooty in colour this individual is an old Common Darter. Another Yellow Wagtail over-head. Sandra reports a big Blue butterfly from the allotments, and Horse Mushrooms are reported ‘as big as a frisby’. More Hornets reported, and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth.

Treecreeper

Stoat

15th August, the red berries of Lords & Ladies shiny from the hedge-bottom along Harbidges Lane, and a Marsh Tit calls. Terry sees 100+ Common Blue butterflies off Brington Road. The ‘good year’ theory is being proven. A report of 3 Stoat in a train crossing the road reminds me how few records we get of this species.

11th August, the combination of migrating birds and locally fledged youngsters sees a noisy flock of small birds moving through the hedges at Oaktree and Grange farms. Four Warbler species, 3 Tits, and 3 Finches. I also see a Mistle Thrush, Treecreeper and 12 Swallows.
9th August, a speck above me is a Meadow Pipit, a south-bound migrant. Hanglands has a Reed Bunting and Chiffchaff. The evening sky is dark and low and develops into a fantastic thunderstorm. The sheepdog lays under the kitchen table, the Jack Russell curled up under the scruff of her neck.

Migrant Hawker

Hornet

8th August, a few more reports of Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillars, and Steve finds a Nut Weevil. Billy reports Green Woodpecker and a young Robin visits the garden, its brown flecked breast adorned with three brick red spots.

7th August, I check for Swifts again and see 3. An Oak Bush-cricket finds our bathroom ceiling attractive. Billy and I pond-dip as a preparation for a ‘Pond life’ display at our Long Buckby Green Spaces stand at the forthcoming Feast. In sunny conditions we find Water Scorpion, Leaches, Water Boatman, Skaters, young Newts, Beetles, shrimps and the larvae of Dragonflies and Damselflies. Incredible life.

5th August, the mass of Bumblebees on the Lavender are joined by a Rosy Rustic moth. I hear a Yellow wagtail go over as well as Raven and Greenfinch. CEP orchards are full of fruiting trees, our best year yet, and Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell are amongst the fallers. The few Wasps are being hassled by a Hornet. Brain has Gorse Shieldbug, and Holly Blue, and Jo reports juvenile Tawny Owl. Aaron sees Southern Hawker.

Common Blue

Brown Argus

4th August, the rough patch of Thistles and Ragwort at CEP holds 20+ male and 2 female Common Blue butterfly, with them are 4 Brown Argus (despite its name it’s also a ‘blue’) and about 8 Small Copper. Speckled Wood also seems more numerous than previous years, as I count 10 on site. Joining the butterflies out over the meadow are Migrant and Southern Hawkers, the ‘garden’ dragonflies, and around the pond 1 male Emperor, 2 Ruddy Darter, 3 Common Darter, and 1 male Emerald Damsel.

1st August, knowing they are about to disappear for another year I count 15 Swifts over the village. Illa reports Barn Owl from north of the village. We have a BBQ at Cotton End Park, and the dusk brings Migrant Hawkers, then several Bats, a Tawny Owl, and a young Brown Rat appears looking for left-overs. We watch the night fall and see the International Space Station, identify various planets, and follow Airplanes and satellites across the vast inky blackness. Summer nights.