Village Wildlife Diary for February 2019

Toad and Guests
February Spawn

28th February, Terry Laney calls with a sighting of Humming-bird Hawk-moth off South Close. We speculate whether this individual hibernated as an adult or as a pupae which has hatched due to the mildness. A few winters ago I dug out a bit off a dew pond at Cotton End Park. It has water in over the winter months but tends to be dry during the summer. I check it this morning and see half a dozen clumps of Frog spawn laid over several days.

27th February, the Woodpigeons are mating on next-doors tv ariel and it bows under the pressure, then twangs alarmingly when they leap off. On the Three Bridges Road I see a male Kestrel drift in and onto a perching female, mating is brief, he doesn’t actually settle on her, but wings open is away within seconds amid a lot of scolding calls from the her.

26th February, 2 Small Tortoiseshells chase each other over the burgeoning Nettle bed at CEP, and the Aconites and Snow Drops are fully open. 2 Reports of active Hare’s from Foxhill Road and Brington Road. Small Tortoiseshell reported from Harbidges Lane. Reports also of soaring, mewing Buzzards around the village.

Small Tortoiseshell

24th February, I see Brimstone on Armley, a male busy looking for a female. Mike and Beth see one off High Stack. CEP has Fieldfares, and singing Skylark, Chaffinch, and Reed Bunting. 1 Snipe is seen.

22nd February, the mildness is coaxing out lots of insects, and Bumblebees and Ladybirds are about. Skylark and Blackbird and singing, and a cockerel is crowing at 0400hrs, which is bit too keen. I’m awake because a bit of jet-lag. A Mistle Thrush is singing beautifully at Cotton End, and a Song Thrush is singing not a hundred yards away. I love the songsters and decide to have dawn chorus session this spring. May 5th is International Dawn Chorus Day so if you fancy joining me at Mill Park between 0500hrs and 0730hrs on that Sunday, I’ll identify what we can hear.

21st February, Brian rescues more Newts from drains, this time 8 juvenile and 1 male Great-crested. Goldcrest reported singing on West Street. Canada Geese noted at the pond near Oak Tree Farm.

Canada Goose

20th February, Carrie gives me a second-hand report of a dead Otter from the stream towards the sewage works near the motorway.

17th February, David sees a Bat at dusk on High Stack.

15th February, Brian reports an active Hedgehog from South Close, and rescues a female Smooth Newt from a drain on Berryfield.

10th February, David sees a Little Egret, Jay, Muntjac and 3 Hares from the Brington Road. Oddly Mild weather.

8th February, Barn Owl now regularly reported from Foxhill Road, sightings are anywhere from Grange Farm to past Foxhill Farm.

7th February, there is a point where the wintering thrushes have stripped all of the available berries from the hedges and then take to the village gardens. Of course they spend a lot of time spread across the pastures and meadows as well, and now is the time for them to re-flock ready for the steady move north.

Village Wildlife Diary for January 2019

The County has had a great influx of winter driven migrant birds this month including, Merlin, Waxwing, Great Egret, Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl, Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, Ring-necked Duck, Great Northern Diver, Great Grey Shrike, Lapland Bunting, and Bittern.

Clay Digging
Tree Huggers

24th January, Terry sees a probable Chiffchaff on South Close, Richard reports one from Station Road and also sees a Snipe and Moorhen at the settling pond on the new estate. Barn Owl again noted from Foxhill Road. Thanks for the come-back of this beautiful bird along there in recent years surely most go to Trevor Moore, for his continuing efforts in providing habitat and nesting places for them.

19th January, I take Peter Spokes out shepherding, and we see 3 Hares off Lodge Lane, and lots of Thrushes and Gulls as well. Starling and Dunnock join the list of singers. Sue photographs Fungi, Lichen and a Jay, and reports Redwing and Pied Wagtail from her garden.


17th January, it rains, it sleets, it snows all before 0700, then is sunny and windy for the rest of the day. Collared Doves are singing (cooing) and their big cousins the Woodpigeons are still perched on my Ivy stripping the berries. Great Tit and Blue Tit are both vocal today.

15th January, mildness is bringing out the odd Ladybird, and other Flies. Tom reports a big Bumblebee, and I see a small presumably male White-tailed Bumblebee. At Spratton we see a soaring Peregrine, and over East Haddon a nicely coloured Red Kite.

12th January, Angela sees a Barn Owl, and then later a Tawny Owl along Foxhill Road

Dog Sick Slime Mould

11th January, at last, it had to happen eventually. I creep into the hide at CEP and carefully open the flap. And there it is. A Snipe, just sitting there. I normally only ever see them flying away. Singing birds include Wren, Great and Coal Tit, and Song Thrush. Alan has 100+ Fieldfares at the Wharf and a pair of Bullfinch in his garden.

6th January, at CEP I see a whitish clump of a porridge like mess on some old grass and on closer inspection decide it is the perfectly named fungi Dog Sick Slime Mould. Honestly that’s what it’s called. Vocal Tit of the day is Coal Tit, singing from the Conifers off West Street. At work on a garden lighting fault, I find a set of odd cup-like fungi. It looks like a set of white chocolate lined, milk chocolate Easter eggs half buried in the soil. They are Cedar Cup fungi and associate with any Cedar tree. I look around and 10 yards away in the neighbouring garden stands a Cedar.

Cedar Cup
Enjoying Myself

5th January, There something about Hedge-laying that is extremely rewarding. I continue on with my hedge at the bottom of Pytchley Drive, and get lots of encouraging comments from passers-by.

4th January, a decent Frost, -5 over Ravensthorpe causeway. But on the roadsides around the village are gatherings of defiant Snow Drops. Heads still tightly shut, making a silent stand. A Blue Tit comes out of one of our many nest boxes and song flights away, and a Great Tit is singing.

A touch of winter

Village Wildlife Diary for December 2018

Empusa pennata
Empusa pennata

29th December, my neighbour Vicky finds an extraordinary addition to her prepacked broccoli, whilst preparing dinner. It looks like ‘Alien’ from the films and quite understandably freaks her out. Her husband Jason rescues her and it and gets some photos (of it not her). They box the creature and bring it to me, and I take to the only person for miles around who would want it… yes, the wonderful Brian Laney. Brian’s network of enthusiasts soon identify it as a species of Preying Mantis (Empusa pennata) It really had to be seen to be believed, what an incredible being, and a very odd addition to the list of wildlife of the village.

28th December, after a bit of an absence 200+ Fieldfares, Redwings and Starlings are on the sheep paddocks of Lodge Lane. They seem to have finished stripping the hedges and trees, and now get together in good numbers and take to the earth.

Roadkill – Polecat
Stakes & Binders

26th December, Carol sees a dead Polecat on the road near the Three bridges traffic lights, and Alan sees a Magpie mobbing a Red Kite. The recent shooting events have scattered the surviving Pheasants all over the parish, including some village gardens. Mistle thrush noted in song near Ashmore.

25th December, after prepping the ’veg, I pop up and feed the lambs at CEP, it is mild and unusually quiet, and I find myself singing ‘Oh come all ye faithful’ out loud. 3 Greenfinches fly over and a Great-spotted Woodpecker hangs on to the feeder.

21st December, 100+ Starlings and similar of Jackdaw are about Rockhill Road, and from a tv aerial, a Goldfinch is singing. Tom and I have a welcome change from electrical work, and harvest Ash stakes and binders from our Wood ready for some hedge-laying.

Great White Egret
Tufted Ducks

19th December, Angela finds another, fatter Newt in our garden, and I see Grey Wagtail.

16th December, Daniel and I see Green Woodpecker, Treecreeper, and Mistle Thrush, and Sue sees a Great Egret at Ravensthorpe Res’. Jo has a flock of Long-tailed Tits in her garden, and a Jay is reported. I notice the Blackbirds have completely stripped my Yew and Rowan of berries, and the Wood Pigeons are gobbling up the Ivy berries.

14th December, a frost overnight has forced the Snipe to feed in the ditch where the water is still flowing, and a male Reed Bunting is new in at the Park. The excellent Bridge House Farm lake has a pair of Tufted Ducks.

Great-Spotted Woodpecker

6th December, Alan finds the Kingfisher perched in his garden at the Wharf, which is one heck of a garden tick. A flock of @50 House Sparrows is noted at the bottom of The Banks. A good sized flock going into winter and an increasingly less common sight these days.

5th December, Blackbird, and Song Thrush are joining with the Robin for some practice singing. Rooks are starting to Display and Adam sees a Kingfisher at The Wharf.

Bird’s-eye View
Grey Wagtail

3rd December, my company Long Buckby Electrical is again awarded the contract to put the Christmas lights up at Market Place. Aaron finds a Collared Doves nest with an egg in and I get dived at by a Jackdaw that is not used to seeing me in his tree. All good fun amongst the hard work.

2nd December, Jim reports Little Egret from Brington Road, and a Winter Moth is noted.

1st December, the Wood Blewit is a robust, edible, purple tinged mushroom, and several are up under the Ash trees at the Park dotted amongst an incomplete ring of Fairy-ring Champignon. There are still several Egghead Mottlegill in the Horse paddocks and other fungi I just can’t get to grips with. I need Jeff Blincow.