Village Wildlife Diary for April 2020

Marsh Marigold

29th April, we are working on a cable fault and have to dig a section out of the ground. Up pops a huge alien shape. It is a Hawkmoth pupae the size of my thumb. A dog walk past Evans’ Ponds is rewarded with a Hobby, a summer migrant falcon. It plays with the Jackdaws but soon shoots off. On the water there is a Mute Swan, and pairs of Coot, Moorhen, and Tufted Duck, and Mr Evans reports Dabchick. After an extensive search Brian finds the wonderfully named Forget-me-not Shieldbug.

28th April, rain all day is good for everything. A young Blackbird, fluffed up and bedraggled, looks a tad dejected and would beg to differ.

26th April, a dog walk first thing sees 12 Yellowhammer, 1 Chaffinch, 7 Whitethroats, 2 Hares and a Rabbitt. CEP has 3 pairs of Linnet and Goldfinch. I find Mistle and Song Thrush with a Blackbird in the same field of view on the sheep paddock. There are several Holly Blue, a Silver-Y Moth, and an Immature Large Red Damselfly. Colin and Jane see a Slow Worm as do others, and Terry reports a queen Red-Tailed Bumblebee.

Lady’s Smock

25th April, CEP has a singing Goldcrest, 2 singing Willow Warblers and a Song Thrush.
Prolific plant finder Brian Laney finds Mousetail, a 1st for the parish and 3rd for the county. He also finds Adders Tongue Fern, Prickly Poppy, Borage, Bugle, Field Woodrush, Oxford Ragwort, Dotted Loosestrife, Knotted Hedge Parsley, Pellitory of the Wall, Round-leaved Geranium, and Red Shepherds Purse, amongst others. He also finds Toad spawn in a new pond on the Floyers Farm housing development.

24th April, There are lots of St Marks Fly hanging in the air at CEP. They are quite large, jet black with distinctive dangly legs. A Muntjac Deer and a Whitethroat are also noted. Terry Laney rings me to report Cuckoo from the Brington Road and David also hears it. Hanglands has a mature Large Red Damselfly, a Grass Snake and 2 Speckled Wood Butterflies. Also Red Campion, and Lady’s Smock are in flower there.

22nd April, World Earth Day. Alan has fledged Robins down at The Wharf, Dean reports Hedgehog from Mill Park, and Steve catches a Ruby Tiger Moth. I have a bird in the chimney at home and it refuses to go up and out or down and out. Eventually I get a cane pond dipping net and manage to force it up the pipe. The bird flaps madly showering me with soot. Carefully I push the cane up further and the bird goes up again with the resulting shower of soot. This goes on for half an hour (and the chimney gets a good clean out) but eventually it comes down and out, doing a circuit of the living room before I get to grips with it. A fine Jackdaw with that piercing sky-blue iris, and grey nape. Now where’s the vacuum cleaner.

Grass Snake

20th April, on my way to Winwick and in a field next to the road there is a pair of Canada Geese with a/the Ruddy Shelduck. The latter being this probable escapee that has attached itself to the local Goose flock. At home we find a delicate little stick thing by the pond that turns out to be a Water Measurer, an insect that can walk on the surface of water. Its scientific name is unsurprisingly ‘Hydrometra’ and it eats mosquito larvae by piercing them and sucking out their insides.

19th April, CEP has flowering Lady’s Smock, Lodge Lane has singing Greenfinch, Grange farm has singing Lesser Whitethroat, and in a field far, far away there is a cracking male Wheatear. I am there, sitting in the hedge with my field ‘scope, and manage to hold my mobile ‘phone to the lens and get a bit of video. After, a Hare lollops past.

18th April, it rains. I find a Cellar or maybe Glass Snail whilst checking the water butt.

Wheatear male
Scarlet Tiger in waiting

17th April, CEP now has 2 Willow Warblers, and a Fox. I am working at Grange Farm and see a pair of Red-legged Partridge along with the usual numerous Pheasants, but as I look, a pair of Grey Partridge creep past, purposely avoiding their larger cousins. An even better sighting is 3 pairs of Tree Sparrows.

16th April, 1 House Martin over Holyoake is a welcome sight. On Foxhill Rd, 1 see a male Wheatear on one of the posts but it soon disappears.

14th April, Alan sees 14 duckling at The Wharf, and Brian sees Hedgehog, Green Shieldbug, and Scarlet Tiger caterpillar.

12th April, someone finds a dead/ injured Polecat, Angela has a close encounter with a queen Hornet, and sees a Scarlet Tiger caterpillar, and I see a cream-spotted ladybird.

Orange-tip female
Green Shieldbug

11th April, Sue reports an Adder from Church Farm. CEP has a singing Willow Warbler, plus Chiffchaff and Blackcap. My garden has Holly Blue and Green-veined White, and the Robin in Billy’s bird box has 4 eggs. Dean reports Weasel and Roe Deer from Oak Tree Farm.

10th April, Mike reports Cuckoo from St Lawrences/Murcott. CEP has a pair of Mallard but only 1 duckiling. Brian reports Barn Owl, Shepherds Needle and Spurge Laurel, and wonders what effect not collecting Toads from the road during lock down will have.

7th April, a sunny start with 3 pairs of Yellowhammer, 1 pair Chaffinch, 1 pair Linnet, 1 pair of Reed Bunting, 4 of Skylark and 1 pair of Tree Sparrow found on an extensive exercise walk. Raven and 3 Meadow Pipits also noted. A Swallow going south(?) over Armley. Peter finds an emergent Holly Blue Butterfly, and David, and Gina see Swallows. 2 male Orange-tip, Peacock, Comma, Brimstone, and Small Tortoiseshell noted, and in the evening 3 small Bats seen.

6th April, Swallows on Lodge Lane, over Armley and on Brington Road. Angela, sees 3 Lapwing go over, 1 calling loudly. Now 2 dead Badgers at Cotton End.

Holly Blue

5th April, Palm Sunday. Chris reports a Lapwing going over, Alan, 2 Ravens at The Wharf, and I see Tawny Mining Bee and Tree Bumblebee.

4th April, Lodge Lane has an active Raven and Red Kite, with Meadow Pipits, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, and a singing Blackcap. Skylarks are also singing well.
Great excitement in the form of a White-tailed Sea Eagle tracked by satellite over the parish. ‘G381’ a bird released in an introduction scheme to the Isle of Wight, promptly heading north across the UK and passed us at a height of 521metres at 1400hrs. I wonder if anyone saw it? They are quite unmissable being massive and looking like a barn door.

3rd April, CEP has a pair of Yellowhammers and a pair of Reed Buntings collecting nesting material. The latter is taking great lumps of Reed Mace seeds, so big it can’t actually see where it’s going. Grange farm has 40 Fieldfare and 30 Redwings on the sheep pasture, plus Nuthatch and Red Kite about. At Evans’ Ponds, 1 pair of Coot hassle a pair of Moorhen, and they are both hassled by the Canada Geese. A Cormorant goes over.

1st April, in the light of the present situation I can’t summon up the enthusiasm for an April fools.

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