Wildlife Diary for August 2016

30th August, without asking the people of this country what they think, our government have recently announced that they are allowing gamekeepers to kill our native Buzzards to protect introduced non-native Pheasants. This is rather odd. Buzzards were shot to extinction in this and many other counties, about a hundred years ago. They are British, a native bird and part of the nature of our islands, so common sense and education has led to them eventually returning to grace our skies.

And gamekeepers release anywhere from 35 to 50 million Pheasants every year into our countryside without any consideration for the effect that has on our native wildlife. So what percentage of Pheasants are actually killed by Buzzards as compared to say being killed on roads? What percentage of the millions of released Pheasants are actually being shot for ‘sport’ i.e. how efficient is the industry to start with? Pheasants are everywhere and live and die in many ways. Surely Buzzards mainly kill Rabbits that eat crops – Rabbits in fact damage well £100 million of crops a year, has that process been assessed and quantified for its true value to agriculture and us?

And finally, in our civilised and educated society, what message does shooting that fabulous bird out our skies, say to our children?

The Gamekeepers I know and work with in this village think this legislation will alienate the public, and further damage the image of the countryside and the people in it.

Blue Butterfly

Kite

29th August, Feast Day! I am at it all day on the Long Buckby Green Spaces stand. And as usual, people see me and remember a wildlife record they needed to give me. So thanks to Angela for the Stoat, Caroline for the Blue Butterfly and Bats, Alex for the Green Woodpecker, David for 3 Buzzards, and the two ladies that said they saw a young Badger in the ally-way near Benbow Farm as they were walking to the feast at about 1300hrs. In the damp orange glow of the evening, I hear a Little Owl calling.

28th August, CEP has Goldcrest, Coal, Blue, Great and Long-tailed tits, alongside Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Robin in a mixed flock in the big Sycamore trees. There are at least 12 Speckled Woods on site, also Red Admiral, and the last of the Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. Hanglands has a patrolling Southern Hawker, a record 6 male Ruddy Darters, 1 Common Darter, and a female Black-tailed Skimmer, a species I haven’t seen there for years.

I meet David and Jonathon Evans on the footpath near Vanderplanks Covert, and we see a family of Hobby’s, two adults, two juv’s, swooping for Dragonflies over the ponds.A young Kestrel and several Jackdaws join in and for five minutes they chase, harass, and play in the afternoon sun.

Pair of Gates

Ruddy Darter

18th August, Alan Webb reports a Sparrowhawk taking a House Sparrow, and sees 3 Juvenile Grey Wagtails at the Wharf. Hobby, Red Kite, and Green woodpecker reported.

The run-off pond on the new estate near Manning Road holds a Mallard with ducklings, and as I approach a shrill piping call tells me there is a Common Sandpiper there. Sure enough up it gets and flies around a couple of times before settling on a culvert. Is that a 1st for the Parish?

17th August, a perfectly marked Badger lies in the road this morning. She is a big sow and I guess her cubs are beginning to wonder where she is. A dead Fox cub is also laying peacefully across the white lines on the 428.

Painted Lady

White-Tailed Bumblebee

13th August, a Sparrowhawk swings through the farm yard at Grange Farm after a shocked Swallow. The latter are busy on their second brood and now is not the time to be eaten. The young of many species are about, and a good dozen young Blackbirds are in our Rowan and Yew trees stripping out the berries. I don’t think any of the berries are actually ripe but this doesn’t seem to matter. Kestrel, Mistle Thrush and Linnets all have young about at Cotton End Park.

Hobby reported, also Painted Lady and Holly Blue. I see over a thousand Black-headed, Common and Lesser Black-backed Gulls together on a field being disked, and spend a good hour searching through them for oddities.

10th August, Doc How reports Green Shieldbug and Raven from Stenhouse Close. Dan at Grasscroft has Tree Bumblebees. Hanglands has Painted Lady and Red Admiral with the Whites and Gatekeepers.

Small Skipper

Emerald Damsel

Green-Veined White

7th August, Hobby three days on the trot. The aforementioned House Martins are the target as young inexperienced birds join the flock. 2 Migrant Hawker at the front of the house are hunting amongst the Ivy in the evening sunshine. A Brown-eared Bat is seen as it takes a spider from a web at the Living Room window. We haven’t seen those here many years, although I don’t spend a lot of time looking.

5th August, Billy and I are restacking some fire-wood. The original stack collapsed for no apparent reason, but drying and shrinking must play a part in destabilizing. We see and carefully avoid spiders, wood-lice, ants and beetles. Job done and into the garden, Comma, Gatekeeper, Large and Green-veined-white are joined by Holly Blue. We see Hobby zap over after being warned by the Holyoake Martins. Have you noticed that all the Swifts have gone?

Brown Hawker

left behind

Lesser Stag Beetle

3rd August, a Common Tern comes over the village at 1730hrs. From East to west.

1st August, more reports of Dragonflies in and around houses and gardens. Southern Hawker seem to be the commonest, but Brown Hawker and Common Darter are also seen. Ben reports seeing Greenfinches with Trichomonosis. This killer disease had a massive impact on populations of greenfinch locally but they have recovered somewhat recently as reported. Ben suggests we all make sure we clean our bird feeders and tables regularly as this is thought to be where it is contracted.

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.

Robin

Nymphaea

Frog

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

Nymphaea

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!