Tuesday, 3 May 2016

May Diary !

30th May -  Cold mornings walk today  with very few birds being seen, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Robin, Ring-Necked Parakeet, several Hedge Sparrows, birds heard but not seen included ChiffChaff, Blackcap, Wren, Great Spotted Woodpecker.

The Western Honey Bee nest is very active now.

Too cold for Butterflies, I can't remember the last Butterfly seen here, no skippers yet or Cinnabars.
The glades are covered with a species of Buttercup, not sure which, Red Campion and Oxeye daisies giving a splash of colour,  Yellow Rattle is in flower at the moment in the meadows, and in the woodland a small yellow flower which I can't identify, see photo below. a definite yellow theme going on here.

unknown ?

close up of above unknown flower

Yellow Rattle
Western Salsify 
Meadow Buttercup
As I walked past the nettles looking for spiders, this Beetle caught my eye, it's a Black headed Cardinal Beetle, there are three types to look out for, the commoner Red headed, the rarer Black Headed and the Scarce which is confined to a few sites in Wales and Scotland, so a nice find.
This Black-Headed Cardinal beetle was much redder in colour compared to the orange colour Red Headed Cardinal beetle. The Black -Headed also appeared longer in body length. 

Black-headed Cardinal Beetle seen at Ashenbank Woods
Red-Headed Cardinal Beetle seen at Rainham Essex for comparison

 23rd May -  Bright sunny morning , its getting difficult to see the birds now that the trees are fully cloaked in their new leafs, I have to rely on my limited bird call knowledge, Blackbird, Robin and Wren were quickly identified, followed by Blackcap, Chiffchaff a distant Great Spotted Woodpecker, the star bird today though goes to a Cuckoo (48) heard calling from the edge of the woodland, or at least I think it was near the woodland, the sound seemed to bounce off the trees in different directions, sometimes fading, sometimes seemingly close, always hidden from view though. this knocks the annual list of birds up to 48 and the site list up to 72 species.

As I walked past last years Honeybee nest I could see some activity with bee's entering the nest hole.

Some Candlesnuff fungi ( Xylaria hypoxylon ) was seen just coming through some moss on a decaying tree lying on the ground.

Candle Snuff Fungi

The "chicken of the woods" fungi found a few days ago remains intake surprisingly.

Chicken of the woods  fungi

Plenty of wild flowers  beginning to show now with Oxeye daisies breaking through the long grass of the meadows.

Finally as my walk neared its end, I noticed this large Nursery Web Spider sunning itself on some White Dead-nettle.

Nursery Web Spider

20th May - The weather has been very changeable of late, especially the temperatures, Butterfly sightings have been poor, the occasional Brimstone and Orange tip, a few small white butterflies which appear to be mainly Green veined variety, the odd Peacock and just one Red Admiral. no Speckled Woods or Skippers yet, Bee's have been mainly Carder, and the odd Red Tailed Bumblebee.

Oxeye Daisies are just starting to appear now.

Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Blackcap are heard daily although not always seen, the Little Owl was seen on the 19th but sightings are very eradicate now. Robin, Blackbird and Song Thrush still around in good numbers the odd Jay has been seen.

14th May - Cold blast of northern air this morning bringing the fleece back out, but still the birds were singing, Song Thrush, Blackcap and Blackbird, Jackdaws have left their nesting tree but still can be seen around the woodland, a Great Spotted Woodpecker heard calling but not seen. a few Butterflies seen, a battered looking Peacock, and a female Orange Tip, Bumblebee sightings included a few Carder Bees and one Buff Tailed Bumblebee.

female Orange tip
Buff Tailed Bumblebee
Wild flowers looking good and a good variety, back in the woodland I came across a fine example of " Chicken of the woods" fungi, this one is edible so will probably disappear soon, its full name is Laetiiporus sulpureus, but more commonly  as sulphur shelf, chicken of the woods, chicken mushroom, first example I have seen this year, but my reference book says that when conditions are right it fruits between late spring and early autumn, so I suppose about the right time.

Laetiiporus sulpureus  Chicken of the woods

Finally as I walked along the track through the glades , this very nice Crab Spider resting on a blackthorn blossom caught my eye. I think he may have picked the wrong flower to wait in ambush, although they can change their colour I believe.

Misumena vatia  Crab Spider

9th May - Last day of sunshine according to the weatherman for a few days, Bluebells have transformed the woodland, bringing in lots of day trippers.

As I walked past the muddy waters of Two Ponds, a movement in the water caught my eye, like a miniature Crocodile moving just under the surface, a couple of Newts, could these be the Great Crested Newts reported to be here, hard to tell in these muddy waters, probably just the Common Newt, I will keep an eye out  for future sightings now.
Just past Two Ponds a small patch of Bugle has flowered, attracting the Bee's already, I think this is an Garden Bumblebee, the only other  Bee seen today was Red Tailed Bumblebee at least three different sightings.

Garden Bumblebee on Bugle

At least one Orange Tip Butterfly seen today.
Bird sightings , plenty of Blackcaps singing all around the woodland, a few Whitethroat still being seen in the hedgerows, Nuthatch heard calling but not seen, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jay Great Tit, Blue Tit.

male Blackcap

The Little Owl has not been seen for a few days now, but another surprise sighting at the horse paddocks at least half a mile away, was another Little Owl sitting on a fence post.

6th May -  The warm early morning sunshine continues for the moment, the Bluebells are reaching their peak  carpeting the woodland floor, plenty of other woodland flowers still showing, Lesser Celandine, Anemones Cowslip, Red, White Nettle, Yellow Archangel.

shades of Blue

yellow Archangel

A few more Butterflies on the wing now, Brimstone, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock a Carder Bee worker seen this morning.

Carder Bee

Birds seen this morning included, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Wren, Robin, Ring Necked Parakeet, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw.

5th May - Another beautiful morning with lovely warm sunshine, birds seen today included 2 Goldfinch in the car park, Great Tit and Robin on the trail to two ponds with the usual Jackdaws in their nesting tree. No sign of the Little Owl today, But Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Blackcap all seen, three Swallows low over the glades, and the Pheasant could be heard calling in the distance although not seen and several Linnet. A pair of Jays in the woodland , a single Magpie, Wood Pigeon and Carrion Crow, 2 Ring necked Parakeets flying over the treetops, a pair of Blue tits and the best sighting of the day were three Bullfinch, one male and two females, very high in the treetops.

Still a few Cowslips looking very nice in the sunshine, together with the lovely rose red, of Red Campion along the fence lines.



Red Campion.

4th May -  The woodlands are looking grand at the moment, trees are filling out with this year's leaf growth, trees are full of blossom, birds are singing, the sun is shining. Bluebells are covering the woodland floor and Temperatures rising this week. No better time  for a woodland walk.

Wild Cherry blossom
Apple blossom
Blackthorn blossom
Bird sightings today included, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Common Whitethroat (5), Chiffchaff, Little Owl, Skylark, Goldfinch, Linnet, Jackdaw, Wood Pigeon, birds heard but not seen Blackcap, Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Swallow flew low over the glade fields, and finally caught sight of the Pheasant that I have been hearing this last few mornings up in the glades

A few young Rabbit sightings this morning and the occasional Grey Squirrel.
In the shady areas of the woodlands wild Garlic or Ramsons are in full flower.

Wild Garlic  ( Wood Garlic) or Ramsons