Friday, 1 May 2015

May Diary

31st May - Not much to report from my daily walk today, yesterday two Common Blue Butterflies posed nicely on some grasses, no camera with me though. no sign of the Nuthatches or Little Owl. a few Small Heath Butterflies still around.

Deadwood habitat.

29th  May -  After a few days away in the West Riding of Yorkshire, it was back to familiar territory today, heavy rain was expected , so a walk in some early morning sunshine was a pleasant surprise.
As I walked up to the Two ponds area a few familiar birds  were seen, a Song Thrush rushed through the undergrowth, closely followed by Blackbird, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker could be heard calling, a single Goldfinch was disturbed from some brambles.
 The larger of Two ponds seems to have been adopted as a dog swimming pool, not looking too healthy which is a shame.

I did catch a glimpse of a Hornet taking a sip of water from the muddy margins of the smaller pond, a heavily cropped photo was taken.

Not much else to report from the woods, a Common Whitethroat could be heard calling but not seen, A Wren gave a quick burst of its song before disappearing into the undergrowth. still no sign of the Little Owl.

Up into the glades these Guelder Roses caught my eye, they look a bit like Hydrangeas but they produce lots of red berries in the autumn which the birds like.

Guelder Rose
An interesting insect caught my eye on this Guelder Rose, which after some research turned out to be a Scorpion Fly, the book says common, but it's the first time I have seen one. interesting tail

Scorpion Fly
The walk down through the glades towards Ashenbank pond is pretty spectacular at the moment with what I think are Greater Spearwort a member of the Buttercup family. then as you approach the Wood, the Ox eye daisies catch your attention.   

Other birds added to the species list today were Carrion Crow, Magpie, Linnit and a Skylark could be heard singing, A Kestrel was disturbed from a Telegraph pole.
A bee seen on a Scabious flower I think is a Carder Bee, but it seemed quite small.

The only Butterfly seen today was a Small Heath which flew up from the footpath as I passed by.

Ashenbank Pond is looking good at the moment, and thankfully fenced off to dogs, a few new flowers could be seen around the pond margins, Yellow Flag, Ragged Robin. no sign of the Moorhen though.

Ashenbank Pond
Ragged Robin
Yellow Flag
A quick check on the Common Spotted Orchid found it still intact and hidden well in the  grasses on the woodland border.

The walk through the woodland was uneventful,  until I neared the Nuthatches nest site, where I watched the female bird bringing food to the nest which it passed in through the nest entrance, hopefully an indicator of chicks inside.

23rd May - Still very quiet in the woodland at the moment, occasional  Chiffchaff heard, fleeting glimpse of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, even the Blackbirds and Song Thrush seemed to have faded away. Around the glades a Yellowhammer seen on 21st, Skylark singing high in the sky, and a few Whitethroat seen. Jackdaw, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, still no more Swallow sightings and the Little Owl hasn't been seen for over a week now. One Buff Tailed Bumblebee seen today, but no other Bumblebee sightings, one Speckled Wood Butterfly seen, Butterfly sightings seem scarce so far this year, I suspect that this is because most of my walks are early morning before it warms up.
The Common Spotted Orchid has a flower bud, and is still intact.
One other surprise was a Moorhen on the smaller of Two Ponds, I suspect this has crossed the road from  the Cobham Hall Estate, where I have seen Coots and Moorhens around the pond in the field adjacent to Halfpence Lane.
The Moorhen seen earlier on Ashenbank pond seems to have left.

Woodland Views
Woodland Views 
16th May - It's been a few days since my last blog entry, not much has changed this week, all the resident woodland birds are still being seen on and off most days, with the trees in full leaf now sightings are much more difficult,I have to rely on my limited bird call knowledge, Common Whitethroats, Blackcap and Chiffchaff are all quite easy to recognise now, as is  Robin, Wren and Song Thrush.
Other birds noted have been the occasional Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Green Woodpecker, Great spotted Woodpecker, Woodpigeon and Stock Dove.
Meadow pipit collecting nesting material. ( mud )
Butterfly sightings are slowly improving now, Speckled Wood, Green Veined White, Peacock, Comma, Red Admiral, and a new one today the Small Heath. That brings this years list to nine species of Butterfly.

Small Heath
Bee sightings have been confined to Buff Tail Bumblebee and as few Carder bees.
Blue bells are still in full bloom within the woodlands, although  I noticed a subtle change in the meadows and glades with Ox-eye Daisies beginning to make there entrance. a few Scabiosa flowers showing.

Ox-Eye Daisy

10th May - The woodland appears to have reached a 'status quo' at the moment, with the same resident birds, being seen most mornings, highlights of today's walk was a Common Whitethroat, a male Blackcap seen well, a few Chiffchaff calling but unseen, no more Swallow sightings as yet here, the Moorhen seems to have settled on Ashenbank pond,

 Unusually a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard today drumming from the top of an old Sweet Chestnut tree. The Nuthatch was doing some repairs to its nesting hole, first time I have seen either of the birds at this site for the last week.

Bluebells are in full bloom, Ramsons putting on a fine display, the cold wind of the last few days has put a halt to any further Butterfly sightings.

This Robin reminded me that there are other aspects of interest within the woodland, I have walked past this monument a countless number of times, often wondering who was that important that this huge earth mound was produced in their honour.

So the actual ancient monument is in the form of a bowl barrow, estimated to date back  to the late Neolithic period to late bronze age 2400 - 1500 years BC
Situated at the highest point in the wood known as "The Mount" these barrows are actually funeral monuments, not particularly rare, with over ten thousand surviving bowl barrows around the country. There is an interesting information board near the monument which describes how it might have looked, these days the ditch has been eroded away as you can see in the photograph, so some imagination required.

What is interesting though, is the fact that they believe this burial monument to be intact, there was a partial excavation back in 1895, but the primary burial was not disturbed because there was a tree growing on the mound which restricted digging activities. I have often wondered if the tree laying beside the monument is the tree in question, the stump of the tree has been carved into a woodland seat where you can sit and contemplate .

There are other interesting aspects to this woodland apart from the bronze age bowl barrow,  there is mention of a 'medieval wood bank' but I have no idea what this is at the moment, some research and investigation required.

6th May - I managed to dodge the showers on this morning's walk, with the sun shining, the gale force winds that battered us last night have left their mark in the wood with a trail of windblown branches, twigs and leaves.  It's getting harder to see some of the woodland birds, now that the trees are nearly in full leaf, but I could still hear,  Robin, Wren, Blue Tit, Song Thrush, and Chiffchaff singing from the trees, the Little Owl was sunning himself on his usual tree, no Butterflies, Bee's or Dragonflies seen in the wood today.

The walk around the glades produced the usual Carrion Crow, Jackdaws, Starlings, Magpie, just One Skylark which burst into a song flight, A Kestrel was hunting on the fields at the edge of the wood. Heres a distant record shot heavily cropped.


At long last, my first Swallow  was seen today skimming the grassy meadows in search of an insect meal, soon lost to sight.

Common Spotted Orchid

One more nice find as I re-entered the woods on the homeward leg of my walk, this Common Spotted Orchid hidden in the meadow plants on the edge of the footpath, hopefully it will flower, it's in a vulnerable position and Jeskyns management team have a habit of cutting the grass near the footpaths.

White-Lipped Banded Snail

5th May - My walk started  with a cold blustery wind and ended with the sun breaking through, too late for any butterflies today though,  too windy for any Dragonflies.
twelve bird species seen today including, Blackbird, Wren, Robin, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Jay, and around the glades, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw and a few Starlings.
As I approached the Ashenbank pond I could see the Moorhen swimming across the pond and duly disappearing into the emerging reeds, nice to see it still there though.

Lots of Ribwort Plantain on view in the grass meadows, whenever  I see this it reminds me of a young lady, possibly a 'new age traveller' by her appearance, who was collecting the leaves of this plant a few years ago to concoct up a remedy for her bronchial problem, hopefully it worked for her,
As an 'Astringent', the herb is able to assist in the healing of wounded tissue, hemorrhoids, skin ulcers and other lesions or sores. It has also been said that it makes an effective treatment for respiratory infections, bronchitis,asthma and emphysema.
With no known side effects, ribwort plantain is allegedly a particularly safe and effective herbal treatment with the potential to ease a wide variety of conditions.

Not sure if I am ready to resort to this yet, but in the event of an apocalypse, handy to know.

Ribwort Plantain

4th May - After an absence of a few days, it was back tramping the trails again today in some dry pleasant weather, there was a noticeable change in the temperature, much warmer today and this has encouraged the Butterflies out at last, Green Veined Whites seemed to be the most abundant, with at least ten plus seen today, one Peacock butterfly was seen resting on some nettles, a restless Orange tip was noticed flying along the undergrowth, and a surprise Small Copper seen on the edge of the glades next to the wood.

This is the butterfly list at present seen by me this year at Ashenbank.

1.Comma  (14/4/15)
3.Peacock  (14/4/15)
4.Green Veined White (4/5/15)
5.Orange tip (4/5/15)
6.Speckled Wood(1/5/15)
7.Small Copper  (4/5/15)
8. Red Admiral (12/5/15)
9.Small Heath  ( 16/5/15)
10.Common Blue (30/5/15)
11.Painted Lady (5/6/15)
12. Small White (17/6/15)
13. Meadow Brown (17/6/15)
14. Large Skipper  ( 20/6/15)
15. Marbled White (1/7/15)

Green Veined Butterfly

While watching the Green veined whites feeding on the Bluebells, a Odonata species caught my eye, flying fast over a sunny glade within the wood,the first this year, I am pretty sure it was the 'Hairy Dragonfly' I couldn't locate it again for a photograph, but I will be watching closely for it on my next walk.
Bird sightings included Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin,Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Chiffchaff, Carrion Crow, Magpie.

Bluebells at Ashenbank Wood
1st May -  A nice start to the month of May, temperatures warming up again,  16 bird species seen today around the woodland trails, Robins in good numbers, Song Thrush singing high up in the trees, Blackbirds dashing through the undergrowth, Chiffchaff  still calling around the woods, as I moved out of the woods into the glades a Blackcap, Whitethroat and a Long tailed Tit all in the same bush, a close encounter with a female Linnit was nice until I tried to raise my camera up in its direction, a Yellowhammer has reappeared looking very bright. Carrion crows and Magpies around the now empty cattle field, a Wood Pigeon flew over,

A quick check of Ashenbank Pond revealed no Moorhen, obviously not to its liking at the moment.

My first Speckled Wood Butterfly was seen near the perimeter of the wood.

From the wood a Great Spotted Woodpecker could be heard calling, the high pitched call of a Dunnock could be heard as I passed, strange that I can't hear the high pitched cooker alarm though !
A Jay was causing a disturbance appeared to be mobbed by a few smaller birds, and a Wren could be heard singing, unseen.

Speckled Wood