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.

Village Wildlife Diary for May 2019

Swarm at Rest
Cinnabar Moth

26th May, Billy and I on shepherding duties at Grange Farm. We walk Road Close and find the lambs. They look happy in a sea of green, green grass. We find an immature Beautiful Demoiselle, a White-legged Damselfly, and 2 Common Blue Butterflies, amongst them. Holy Blues seem to be everywhere. Hornet again reported.

25th May, at CEP there are now a hundred Azures, and Large Reds all busy egg-laying. A flash of orange is a Small Copper, hidden within a waving forest of Buttercups. I stumble across a swarm of Bees bivouacking in an Elder in the Lower Orchard. Just walk away. Hornet and Jay reported, Aaron sees a Cinnabar Moth, and Jo has Rook and Jackdaw at her garden feeder.

Large Red Damsel
Common Blue

24th May, a bit of sunshine and at CEP, Billy and I see our first Common Blue Butterfly, and a blue (mature male) Broad-bodied Chaser. Again at David’s ponds, Azure Damsel egg-laying, immature Red-eyed, Blue-tailed and White-legged Damsels. We also find two Mother Shipton Moth (Go on look it up). At Mill Park, Keith gets photos of Frog, Cinnabar Moth, Cockchafer, Slow Worm and Cardinal Beetle. PM and I’m in the garden and the Holyoake Martins shriek out, Hobby! I get less than a second.

21st May, with spring gathering pace I open CEP and have my usual check-round. A hovering blue matchstick becomes Azure Damselfly. There are 3 immature Broad-bodied Chasers, looking a bit like huge wasps. Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies are about especially by the Nettles, and a tiny, pretty moth lands near me. Small Yellow underwing. David’s Ponds have Large Red Damselflies and Comma Butterfly. Hornet reported.

The Raider
Mallard and Ducklings

20th May, Our man at The Wharf is always on the case, and sees a probable Osprey soaring over going towards Daventry. At the moment there are records of Osprey on a daily basis from either Hollowell, Ravensthorpe, and/or Pitsford Reservoirs.

19th May, the ancient ridge and furrow field at the back of St Lawrence’s is a favourite of the dog-walkers, and holds a lot of wildlife. The extended evenings have brought two reports of Barn Owls hunting there. It’s good to have such places around the village and thanks must go to farmers J C Jackson, particularly James Jackson for allowing access and retaining this beautiful field for the good of our community, and wildlife. A walk along the footpath below Oak Tree Farm and alongside the Ponds created by David Evans is always a treat. The Covert is alive with bird song and the pond has Canada Geese with young, a pair of Tufted Duck, as well as the usual Mallard. A surprise is the attempted landing of a Cormorant, and 2 Greylag Geese flying over. I hear my first Garden Warbler, hear Great-spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, and see a Tawny Owl being pursued by noisy Blackbirds. 2 Brimstones and a Red Admiral noted.

Small Copper

15th May, the Moorhens are fussing over two tiny, back balls of fluff floating on the pond at CEP. The chicks are fresh out of the nest, and seem so vulnerable. There are fledged Blackbirds, Robins and Long-tailed Tits. Swifts appear and a family of Lesser Black-backed Gulls drift over. More road kill Badgers, Foxes, (though not many Rabbits) reported, and more reports of the killings of cats and Magpies.

12th May, how stubborn the Ash are, not a sign of leaf on some of them. What are they waiting for? A huge queen Wasp is lumbering up the High Street. The colony of Masonry Bees is hard at it on Miles Lane, such activity, and busy-ness. A male Greenfinch is singing in Clifton Close, and there is a squashed Hedgehog on Station Road.

Rook and Jackdaw

11th May, 10 Swifts appear from high up and come racing in over the roofs tops. At last you’re here! Holly Blue and Orange-tip, Whitethroat and Magpies in my garden. The Magpies are busy decimating the young birds. They find the Blackbird nest in our garden and even though we are tuned in to the alarm calls, are too late to save the first chick. So one down, three to go. We are successful in driving the Magpies away on several occasions even at 0600hrs one morning. They strike again though and another is taken. We are down to two and then they fledge, but we see just one. The Blackbirds try again in a new place even nearer the house. Good Luck. Billy and see a pair of Tree Sparrow whilst walking the dogs.

8th May, 8 House Martins over the village, and Jim sees a Yellowhammer in his garden off The Leys. Peter Spokes sees a Lapwing over Grange Farm. Big Dave finds a tiny black spider, and Sue photographs Hare and a Sparrowhawk.
5th May, International Dawn Chorus Day. I have 20 odd villagers standing in a circle in Mill Park at 0500hrs. It is about 2 degrees but they stand still and are quiet. We listen and I paint a map in people’s minds of positions of singing birds and what species they are. Time flies by and we clock up 23 birds seen and heard before half six, then drink coffee and eat cakes. A Swift over Market Place, Ladies Smock in flower at CEP, and Alan reports Otter from Welton Marina.

4th May, cold morning, and 3 Mute Swan flying over make it feel colder.

1st May, I’m at Long Buckby Infant School and have a sea of smiling faces in front of me. We talk about pond creatures, Dragonflies and the myriad of life in fresh water. Ian reports seeing a Golden Pheasant at West Haddon.

Village Wildlife Diary for April 2019

Blue Tit and Blackthorn

29th April, still cold but a single Swift drifts over the village reminds me… Where are the House Martins, and will any more Swallows arrive?

23rd April, a cold snap brings a halt to proceedings. Richard sees a male Whinchat at Cold Ashby Golf Course. I can’t find any passage migrants. I think there is a growing colony of nesting Linnets at CEP, as I see them most times I visit and number have increased with 12 plus noted on the Dandelion heads in the newly extended wildlife area.

21st April, Billy sees Red Admiral, Peacock and Large White. 3 juvenile Blackbirds are reported by Richard from Pytchley Drive. At Hanglands we find a dead Grass Snake. It is intact other than damage to the head, but looks like it may have been attacked whilst in moult. A green, teneral Large Red Damselfly is the first odonata of the year, and a Ladies Smock is just in flower. Red Kite is now almost a daily sight. Later I check out the ‘chat’ fence off Foxhill Road but nothing doing. Reward for stopping comes in the form of a fly-over Yellow Wagtail and Skylark. Lots of Butterfly records coming in.

Holly Blue

20th April, at the horse-sick fields behind Lime Avenue a single Redwing is sitting high in an Ash, calling. Numbers of Butterflies are being seen with Speckled Wood, Holly Blue and Orange-tip reported. I am walking down The Banks and a movement on the path turns out to be a Bank Vole. It runs from doorstep to doorstep before realising the grassy bank is a better place to be. Swallows are reported from converted farm buildings on the Brington Road, Grange Farm, Foxhill Farm, and Buckby Folly.

19th April, at CEP a defiant Canada Goose and his mate are churning up the pond, and annoyingly they send off the Snipe and a Moorhen. There are several birds singing including Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Pied Wagtail, Linnet, Reed Bunting, and the first Willow Warbler and Whitethroat of the year. Bold Red Kites over the village. Alan is having regular Hedgehog sightings at The Wharf and has got nest boxes in place just in case. He also has nesting Robin and noted Coal Tit on the feeder.

18th April, warmth brings Orange-tip and Brimstone into the garden. Mr Evans sees 3 Swallows. There are 2 Linnets at Grange Farm, and House Sparrows in the nest boxes. Cath reports 4 Tit species visiting including Coal Tit, and nesting Dunnock from her garden in Cox’s Close. She also reports Swallows, Blackcap and Linnets.

Grub Up

14th April, a couple of Meadow Pipits go over North, as do Common and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. There are Linnets and Greenfinches singing at CEP. Steve sends a photo of a big hedgehog from Wright Road. David sees Swallows off Brington Road.

12th April, a frosty start and in the clear sky above East Street a huge Raven is being harried by a pair of Jackdaws. At CEP as I retrieve litter from the pond I suddenly have two birds get up in front of me, fly away and vanish within a split second. I stepped forward and nearly onto a Jack Snipe, and twenty yards away a Common snipe also reacts. Both do what it says in the Book, the Jack just silently arches away for a few yards then goes back down into the Sedge. The Common flies up, zig-zags, calls, and flies away. 3 Blackcaps, 1 Chiffchaff and a Reed Bunting sing. I see David on Market Place and during our discussion I hear Fieldfare calling. David looks up to see 2 go over.

11th April, a Chiffchaff is singing from a tree in my garden and then moves to four other trees around the close before coming back to mine. Another lone Swallow over, and the Blackbirds’ bills are full of Moss as they disappear into the Holly.

10th April, sunny and cold for Tony’s funeral. A lone Swallow over Mill Park brings a smile. Drifts of Blackthorn blossom adorn what’s left of the unmolested hedges. And out there somewhere a Skylark is giving its all.

Pesky Moles!

6th April, a maintenance trip to the rarely disturbed Hanglands NR provides singing Chiffchaff, and a Muntjac. Dave sees Great Tit, Yellowhammer, and hears a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker at Cotton End Park. I visit later and hear a Blackcap singing.

5th April, a female Stonechat is risking it by fly-catching from the road-side at Surney. Alan has 2 Little Egrets flying together parallel to the motorway at the Wharf. Later I see 2 white birds in a field near Willow Mill. I reverse the van and find they are Little Egrets.

2nd April, at 0730 I am watching a Blue Tit from the bedroom window as it checks out one of Billy’s nest boxes. In the tree next to it a male Blackcap appears. Jim reports 2 Hedgehogs in Armley Close. Bill sees Goldcrest at Grove Farm Close.

1st April, for quite a few years now we have been battling with the Moles at CEP. They create excellent ’trip hazards’ on the paths and Adam has been regularly flattening the soil hills whenever they occur. It looks like this morning the Moles have really got their own back!