31st August, 0730hrs. By the picnic benches I find dozens of pieces of litter, including beer, cider and wine bottles and tins, plus sweets and take-away wrappings. I guess it’s the same group of youngish villagers who love to come up to the park but simply don’t care about what they leave behind. I hope they grow out it, and don’t let their offspring do the same. Trouble is I’m not sure they will. Having created a community park, a ‘public’ space, littering and vandalism by a minority is sadly par for the course. I shouldn’t get precious about the thousands of hours of volunteer labour that goes into keeping Cotton End Park successful. There are oh so many positives. I collect all the litter, all the tiny bits of broken glass, and beer tops, every last bit, so that today’s visitors can enjoy themselves. The sun shines, though its cooler this morning. A Robin sings.
30th August, Daniel and I are preparing the Orchards for mowing and see a pristine Comma, also Red Admiral and Common Blue. At the pond a male Reed Bunting is seen for the first time in ages, and a noisy Raven goes over. Adam sends me a photo of Lime Hawkmoth caterpillar. Alan hears a Tawny Owl (or two) at The Wharf.
28th August, 0500hrs and a Little Owl is sitting in the Plumb Tree calling. I listen but hear nothing reply to it other than our Jack Russell. A few larger, well-marked Hoverflies are about from the Volucella family. Both Inanis and Zonaria noted (This news is due to having a new field guide and a good stand of Lavender to hand)
27th August, Mike sees Froglets no bigger than your thumb nail. Old Lady Moth reported, plus big House spiders. Grey Wagtail noted, and over the space of 2 hours, 3 different Painted Lady Butterflies seen to be heading purposefully south. A Wheatear is still on the bale stack in the field next to Foxhill Road.
26th August, it feels right for migration and I attempt to re-find last night’s birds. I find 2 Wheatear and 1 Whinchat. (Richard comes along to have a look, and Sue gets a photo. Thanks Sue). The field also has Skylark, Yellow Wagtail and Tree Sparrow, as well as 2 Hares. Brilliant. I go out again in the afternoon and chose Oak Tree Farm via the footpath between Murcott and Foxhill Road. Again lots of bird movement in the hedges with Warblers including 6 Willow Warbler of note. I see a flash of orange and know it has to be a Redstart and sure enough, after I change my position by jumping the stream, a female/immature shows well. Near Davids pond’s, I see 2 Brown Argus, 3 Common Blue and 2 Small Copper Butterflies, along with Red Admiral, Peacock, Painted Lady, and Speckled Wood. Not forgetting the pond itself, and 20plus Migrant Hawkers, dozens of Small Red-eyed Damsel, and a few Southern Hawker are all noteworthy.
25th August, early visit to CEP and the park is full of birds. One each of Green Woodpecker, and Great Spotted Woodpecker. 2 Mistle Thrush, 8 Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, a handful each of Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Yellowhammer, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Great Tit, and Blue Tit. 2 or 3 each of Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Stock Dove, Robin, Dunnock, and Treecreeper. And there are several birds I don’t identify. Then this happened. I flush a bird from the zig-zag in the Orchard. Frustratingly it doesn’t call but I see it is a species of Pipit and follow it in flight to where it lands, which is in a big Ash at the bottom of the access track. I get down there but can’t initially re-find it. After a minute I think about getting back to work and as I move, up gets the bird calling furiously, ‘Sbeezz!’. A Tree Pipit. Cotton End Park’s first and number 99 on the Park bird list. Late afternoon and I’m scanning the bale tops for passage migrant birds and come across 3 Wheatears on a tall stack of big bales next to Foxhill Road.
24th August, a hot afternoon is good for insect activity and the park hosts 7 Butterfly and 7 Dragonfly species. There is a fly-over Yellow Wagtail, and a Yellowhammer. Harvest is in full swing and air is full of dust. Red Kite and Hare are reported.
20th August, Richard reports a Wheatear from the Brington Road. More reports of Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillars, and Geri sends me a photo’ of Privet Hawkmoth caterpillar.
15th August, several sheep in the wildlife area at CEP. They are not mine. I stick my head through a gap in the boundary hedge and find our farming neighbour’s fence hasn’t been maintained since the first moon landing. There 70 odd Swallows and House Martins over the pond feeding and drinking. I see Southern Hawker, its smaller cousin the Migrant Hawker, and Ruddy and Common Darter. There also a lone Small Copper.
12th August, Jane finds an Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar, Cath’s friends find an exhausted juvenile Black-headed Gull. Bats reported from Pytchley Drive, and Church Street. Alan finds a pair of severed Crayfish claws. Something has had a meal and left the hard bits.
10th August, sun, rain, wind, cloud, sun, rain, strong wind, sun… The gusts are exciting and no bird dare fly. A Southern Hawker carries on as usual.
9th August, near Floyer’s farm with Cath and we see 3 Ravens. I unlock CEP and find a Brown Hawker patrolling the car park. The place is humming with Orthoptera, Roesel’s Bush-crickets, Common Field and Common Green Grasshoppers.
5th August, heavy rain has brought out a few fungi, big white Horse Mushrooms appear. The Blackbirds are making a good job of stripping the unripe berries off my Rowan and also my Yew is being constantly de-berried. I see 2 Willow Warblers off Grasscroft and a Meadow Pipit goes over. Another Willow Warbler awaits me in the garden as I return from work. Calling constantly, a sweet, up-slurred, ‘hu-eet’.
4th August, Steve has Southern Hawker in his garden.
3rd August, at CEP at least 5 Willow Warblers and 3 Chiffchaff, all very vocal, are with the resident Goldcrests and Robins along the right-hand boundary hedge. They are joined by a dozen Long-tailed Tits, and a Treecreeper. There still lots of Meadow Browns, 5 Painted Lady, a handful of Common Blue males and the brown and blue females, Gatekeepers, Small Skippers, Speckled Wood and Peacocks. There is also an old male Black-tailed Skimmer. Hanglands has a worn out Ringlet, a pea-green and sky-blue male Southern Hawker, and we find a Grass Snake whilst strimming.
2nd August, juvenile Bullfinches lack the colour and black cap of the adults and I watch 2 stripping the crunchy seeds from a Dock inches from the ground. I step forward and 40 Goldfinches get up from the downy heads of the Thistles. This flock too contains youngsters with a plain head lacking the black and red of the adults. I notice the Swifts are not there. The Swifts have gone. Just upped and left.
1st August, I run out and scan the skies above Armley, The Leys and Holyoake, for Swifts and phew! yes they are there, along with some House Martins. Jennifer reports dozens of Painted Lady, Red Admiral and Peacock from her Buddleia, as do others.