Wildlife Diary for July 2016

CEP Marbled White Butterfly

CEP Dragonfly

CEP Rabbit

31st July, Jo and Mike separately report Red Kites. Two birds are seen over the rape fields as they are being harvested. They are scavengers and cruise about staring intently at the newly exposed ground. Rob jumps off the ‘combine’ for a beer at the back gate. We talk moisture, tonnage, ploughing, beer and dogs, all in 1 minute. The sun shines, the days are long, the time is now..

30th July, 21 species of butterflies so far and I haven’t tried for the Purps’ at the Station yet. It is my birthday and I treat myself by getting up early and strimming the flower meadow at Hanglands. It is the once a year equivalent of scything, in fact, a scythe would do a better job other than the ground being uneven. I am watched by a young Buzzard and a Kite comes over to look for pickings.

A male Brown Hawker is patrolling the fast evaporating 2nd pond. It’s called a Brown Hawker because as with all named things that’s the first impression – a brownish thing. On closer inspection, it has amber yellow wings, and blue and yellow blocks and rings on its chocolate-orange, brown body, a real beauty. The flowers and grass tumble, and the seed-pods of the are vetch are still popping as it lays on the ground. The sweat rolls down my face, and I breathe in the smell of summer.

CEP Small Tort

Fuscus LBBG

Hawker With Exuvia

27th July, Butterflies reports still coming in, courtesy of the sunshine, with Brimstone, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, and Red Admiral seen. A big green and black Dragonfly appears in the garden during the evening, a female Southern Hawker may be eyeing my rather pathetic garden pond

22nd July, Terry reports 2 Holly Blue butterflies, and I see Painted Lady and Peacock. Tony sends a photo of his resident Toad, a formidable looking lady indeed. Ruddy Darter at Hanglands is a good find as some years I have none. Having mentioned Lesser Black-backed Gulls (LBBG) on the 20th I see no reason not to push my luck again so here goes.

20th July, Comma joins the butterfly list and July Belle, the moths. Tommo and I start to tackle the garden but we still have nests of Blackbird, Robin and Dunnock with chicks, so I cancel the operation, much to Tom’s delight. Plus we disturb a big Frog. I know Gulls are not that interesting but I challenge you to go to the Royal Oak industrial estate in Daventry on a sunny day and not be thinking of the seaside after five minutes. The sounds of Gulls, in this case Herring Gull, and Lesser Black-backed Gull, nesting on some of the vast roof tops is quite evocative. Either that or I am in real need of a holiday.




19th July, Hobby again over village suggests breeding locally. A very hot day is bringing out the insects and my garden is abuzz. At work on some garden lights on Pytchley Drive and I disturb a large red/white/black moth which I work out to be Scarlet Tiger.

13th July, Vicky and I see Hobby over Armley, and David sees the Kite low over Market Place. 9 species of Dragons at CEP including the first Brown Hawker, and 11 species of Butterflies including Marbled White (3!) Small Skipper and Red Admiral. The first Common Darter reported.

10th July, a brilliant royal blue male Common Blue butterfly appears whilst I search for the Marbled White. I see that and another. A Raven and a Red Kite cruise over.

9th July, Tony sends a photo of a moth I think is Leopard Moth. Common Shrew and Gatekeeper are reported.

6th July, CEP has hundreds of butterflies on the wing including Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, and Large Skipper in the meadow, and as if by magic a Marbled White suddenly pops up. I am not sure there are any colonies left in Buckby parish so this is good news. The small pond at Hanglands is hosting an emergence of Southern Hawkers. A dozen or so newly formed adults are resting next to their exuvia, building themselves up to the first flight of their lives. The Water Lilies flowers are just perfect.

Muslin Moth

young robin


5th July, Brian finds a roadkill Little Owl towards Surney Bridge, and I find a roadkill hedgehog on Spencer Road. As an electrician I find myself travelling the roads through nearby villages and have noticed how every village seems to have a resident squashed Hedgehog on its main road. I rarely if ever see a squashed Hedgehog outside the villages themselves as if Hedgehogs only live in villages, not in the greater countryside.

3rd July, CEP work party is enlightened by views of Beautiful Demoiselle, Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Red Kite, and the Red Arrows, as well as hundreds of butterflies.

2nd July, Mr Ball from Parkfield donates some slabs to Mill Park and we see 2 Trout in the stream at the bottom of his garden whilst collecting them. Mike Ivens reports a Little Egret, and we find a pair of mating beetles we think are Gastrophysa Viridula, whilst we unload. Hobby at dusk over Grange Farm.

1st July, Kevin reports a large Grass Snake from CEP whilst starting on the new pond. I pop down to monitor progress and hear a Little Owl, and a Reed Bunting and see a pair of Grey Partridge, 2 Black-tailed Skimmers, and 5 Broad-bodied Chasers. Dean reports 14 Ducklings with the pair of Tufted Duck at Evans Ponds and Painted Lady is seen on Jackson Track.

Wildlife Diary for June 2016

Azure Damsels

Chimney Sweeper

Large Skipper

30th June, some poor weather is suppressing the insect activity and this is telling on the Swifts. They are normally high-level feeders, racing through the skies gathering insects. When the weather is poor they come lower down and this leads to accidents with cars and sometimes buildings, as they have the speed but often not the manoeuvrability. Swallows, however, are low-level insect catchers and often follow animals, vehicles and us as we inadvertently flush insects. My two Hebridians, Romulus and Remus refuse to get in the trailer and go on holiday with the rest of the CEP sheep. They now stand there staring at the gate. A Wren is singing full-belt on the gate post as if to scold them.

26th June, the good thing about looking up at a bird in the sky is you often see other birds in the process. I take the time to look at the now daily, but still amazing, Red Kite for a few seconds and notice 2 Hobby’s calling and swooping around it. I wonder if they have a nest nearby?

24th June, at CEP, working out with Kevin where the new ‘peoples pond’ is going to be and we see some big Dragonflies. The largest, a big blue-bodied male Emperor, is patrolling the open water on the existing pond with Black-tailed Skimmer and Broad-bodied Chaser around the edges. A male Southern Hawker appears. In the flower studded grassy areas, the first Meadow Browns and Ringlets join the Large Skippers amongst the Clover and Buttercup.

19th June, Buckby birder Ben sees a Weasel and Red-legged Partridge at Cotton End Park and sees 30 other bird species during his survey around the village. My wife sees a Jay.

15th June, escorting more guests to Hanglands for the Bee Orchids, and we hear a quiet but grating warble from inside a Hawthorn. It is a Sedge Warbler. We call the quieter song that some birds sometimes do, sub-song and think it may be the bird practising to itself prior to the main performance. This bird did eventually come out from the centre of the bush to the topmost twig and give the full rendition. Better late than never, there are 4 Speckled Woods on the wing.

Lesser Stag

Common Spotted Orchid

Holly Blue

12th June, A drowsy Lesser Stag Beetle wondered on the drive at home and even through the mandibles look a bit scary, I pick it up and deposit it in the log-pile out back. There is a degree of truth and humour in my son’s remark that it might have spent the last three days walking away from there in the first place. I find a big moth and have the joy of looking it up in a book. It is Scalloped Oak. Fab names Moths.

11th June, with the kind invitation from Trevor Moore of Costcutter, Sue and Chris Ebbage and myself are given access to private land off the West Haddon Road. Trevor and his family have created some wonderful habitats based on Trevor’s love for the Barn Owl. Sue and Chris were armed with their professional cameras and although the weather isn’t kind we still manage to see some good wildlife including Common Spotted Orchid and Chimney Sweeper Moth. Afterwards, I took them to Hanglands NR to look at the Bee Orchids.

10th June, there are Daddy long-legs or Crane Flies emerging at the moment and there is more than one species to look for. The commonest (Tipula Paludosa) is fairly dull and tends to emerge a bit later in the year but at the moment the small yellowish ones are the Spotted Crane-fly, and the massive ones with camouflage wings are Tipula Maxima.

Male Broad bodied Chaser

Speckled Wood

Silver Ground Carpet

9th June, a warm morning at ponds of the Brington Road produces Dragonflies including Four-spotted and Broad-bodied Chasers, a Male Beautiful Demoiselle, and Azure, Red-eyed, Common Blue and Large Red Damselflies. Speckled Wood represented the Butterflies, and Silver Y, Brown China-mark, and Silver Ground Carpet, the Moths. A family of 4 Grey Heron and Coot were also about.

8th June, Red Kite is becoming daily and quite low over the village. Buzzards tend to come over the houses to get some thermal lift from heat retention in the roads and houses and disappear up and away, but the Kite is looking for food. Maraki reports a House Martin from the Holyoake crew being taken by a Sparrowhawk and suggest there are about 10 active nests which are more than last year. This contrasts with the loss of nests on The Banks and I wonder if The Banks crew has joined the Holyoake crew. Safety in numbers and all that.

6th June, one of the three immature Broad-bodied Chaser I saw last week has started to gain the blue colouring on the abdomen telling me it’s a male. He is fighting his brothers to establish a territory at the small pond on Hanglands. A Cormorant goes over towards Watford and the resident Lesser Whitethroat is still singing his heart out. Terry Laney reports Speckled Wood and 2 Painted Lady’s. The former is about a month late, and the latter a month early!


Wildlife Diary for May 2016

Red Kite

Female Blackcap


29th May, I walk past Evans Ponds on the footpath along the parish boundary with Watford and Haddon. I find a male Common Blue butterfly and 5 Burnet Companion moths, plus a Silver Y. There are lots of colourful Damselflies, like hovering matchsticks, Large Red, Azure Blue, White-legged, and Blue-tailed. There are Yellow Flag Iris and Ragged Robin in flower, and in the air above a Red Kite is following me, and a Lark is hard at it high in the big blue, oh the spring!

28th May, at Hanglands the Lesser Whitethroat and Blackcap are singing over the sound of my strimmer. I stop to refuel and in the distance, a Cuckoo utters two ‘cuckoos’. It is my first of the year and as far as I know the only one for the parish. I call Cuckoo enthusiast, Jenny Spokes, she arrives fairly quickly but we don’t hear it again. There are 3 Broad-bodied Chasers over the Nettle beds. They are huge insects and so perfectly adapted to hunting flight. During the evening the family joins me and we see 2 Hobbys together looking like they are house hunting. The Hobby is an ace catcher of Swallows, Martins and Swifts and nests in old Crows nests. We also see a ginger-red Fox his coat shining in the evening sun.

25th May, two residents of Parkfield and Syers Green Close report the Red Kite circling overhead. The smallish Hedgehog I saw on East Street last week didn’t last long and is squashed in the same place I saw it the other night. Sue Plant sees Red Kite and an Egret. Unbelievably, a white Egret these days could be a Little Egret or a Great White Egret, as both species are fairly regular in the county. The ‘Little’ is obviously smaller than a Grey Heron, the ‘Great White’ looks bigger. Red Admirals reported.

May Bug

Cuckoo Flower

Sweat Vanilla

24th May, Neil Chanter (our man on The Banks) relays that the House Martin colony on The Banks is no more. He has been on there for many years and says that in 2014 there were seven active nests but last year just three. This year they came and looked but did not stay. My wife finds a May Bug or Cockchafer, a now rare, large beetle, and gets a good photo. I just don’t see them anymore.

23rd May, Red Kite overload. There are 2 being seen quite low over the village which is upsetting the Jackdaws and Starlings that are busy breeding. I see a Hobby whilst watching a Kite, and Neil sees a Hobby as well. Holly Blues are in my garden and I see a female lay her eggs on the budding flowers. To my dismay a Blue Tit comes along five minutes later and seems to be picking at the very same spot.

21st May, Alan Webb finds a Grey Wagtails nest whilst on a WBLA work party on the Canal. My family use it as an excuse for a walk and enjoy seeing Grey Heron, Moorhen and Mallard with fluffy young, and the Wagtails. The mature gardens along the sides hold at least 2 singing Goldcrest’s plus Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps.

Sing For Spring

Marsh Marigold


20th May, A Mute Swan flies over as do 2 Cormorant. Red Kites are daily and Buzzard and Sparrowhawk barely get a mention. I see a live smallish Hedgehog on East Street during the evening and keep my fingers crossed.

17th May, I have been with a lady teaching her bird song and have realized that 40 odd years of knowledge cannot be passed on that easily. She shows me an app’ which is a real asset, and makes it easier for me to give out ‘homework’. I use it to sort out the annual bird song issue; is that a Blackcap or is it a Garden Warbler? It is a well-known birding dilemma that even the good birders struggle with, but the app’ is very helpful when the memory lets you down.

15th May, my neighbours draw my attention to 2 Red Kites low over the village, and other reports of them come in. At CEP we find a Robins nest with 5 chicks and a Pheasant on 12 eggs. There has been a hatching of St Marks Fly, again a couple of weeks later than last year. There is a part circle of St Georges Mushroom, you could argue they are late as well. Bernie, Lee, Cassie, David, Daniel, Jo and others see the Kites.

8th May, Nick Hudson sends a great photo of the large house spider Tegenaria Gigantea, and Ben Reeve sees 30 bird species, including Moorhen with chicks at CEP. At Hanglands NR, the first of the dragons/damsels are about in the form of 2 immature Large Red Damsels. There are one or two Bee Fly’s hovering in front of anything that looks like it might be the entrance of a bees nest, flicking their abdomens as they deposit eggs. The young are parasites of mining bees.

7th May, I see young Blackbirds and a young Robin along Lodge Lane. Other than size, they look rather similar at this age which belays their belonging to the same bird family The Thrushes. This family also includes Redstarts, Wheatears, Nightingale, The Chats, and of course the true Thrushes like Mistle, and Song. I pop into CEP and find young Mistle Thrushes, a Great-spotted Woodpecker, singing Blackcap and a brief glimpse of a Spotted Flycatcher. These are rare now, 20 years ago there were several pairs annually about the village. A splash of soft pink tells me that at last the Ladies Sock/Cuckoo Flower is in bloom. These flowers must be two weeks later than last year. Terry Laney reports Bee Fly, and Raven, and whilst looking up sees a large raptor alongside a Common Buzzard which he thinks is a Honey Buzzard. These birds are a rare British breeding bird and live on the larvae of wasps and bees, in the forested parts of the UK.


Smooth Newt

New Helper

6th May, a warm day and the House Martins, and Swifts are over the village making a stand for summer. I see a Little Owl and a Hare off the Brington Road, and there are several of each of Holly Blue, Orange-tip, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock about.

5th may, Beth York sees Orange-tip at Watts Way, and a Peacock is seen in South Close. There are many parties of Mallard ducklings about the village and a nervous female is escorting her 14 down East Street to the delight/dismay of the morning commute. Yesterday’s one Swift turns into 13 and they scream information above The Library. Adam reports a Stoat and a Red Kite.

4th May, 7 house martins from the Holyoake crew are about over The Leys, and a Swift appears amongst them. Thomas reports 3 Bats from the garden.

2nd May I am aware that one of the regular passage migrants is missing from my list and that the passage time period is nearly up. I have been making an effort to go to where I might expect to see Redstart but have failed so far. With maintenance of the ponds at Hanglands NR on my mind, I spend a couple of hours carefully clearing some dead bulrush and on my way back, having to open a couple of field gates, look up and see the satisfying flash of brick-red telling me a Redstart is a fly, catching. The female sits for me while I grab the binoculars and then after a minute slips away.