Saturday, 9 July 2016

July Diary !

30th July - A dull cloudy morning did not bode well for the sighting of any Dragonflies or Butterflies, and so it was, no Dragonflies on my bramble patch that has attracted the dragonflies for the last few days, and the only Butterflies today were a few Gatekeepers.

Only notable Bird was male Kestrel hunting over the glades, a brief view of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a few Blackbirds, Robin and a Wren. Most of the Ragwort around the glades is being consumed by hordes of Cinnabar caterpillars, hope this is reflected in the number of  adult Cinnabars seen next year.

I noticed in the woodlands, that a lot of the fallen logs covered in moss were showing Dead man's Fingers fungi as shown below.

Dead mans fingers fungi
And a splash of colour from the few remaining berries of the Lords-and-Ladies plants.

Lords- and- Ladies  Arum maculatum

29th July - A warm sunny morning with a threat of rain later, good start to the day with a fine looking Buzzard perched on a lamp-post outside the woodland, a few blackbirds, Robins and a Wren seen only.

Butterflies seen included Gatekeeper, Meadow brown, Speckled Wood, Small Skipper.

Western Honey Bees still active in the old tree nest, and the wrecked Red Tail Bumblebee nest still has a few individuals flying in and out of the large gaping hole in the grasslands

I have discovered a patch of bramble that catches the early morning sun and seems to be a magnet for the dragonflies, at least five Migrant Hawkers, five plus Common Darters all female. haven't managed to capture an image of the migrant Hawkers yet, who are very active .

Common Darter female

26th July - Beautiful sunny morning with slightly cooler temperatures, a bramble patch with a sunny aspect was attracting a few Dragonflies today, one Migrant Hawker, which would not settle for a photograph and a few Common Darters all female, the pale yellow stripe can clearly be seen on the legs with this one.
female Common Darter

At least four Speckled Woods seen today, two Marbled Whites, Green Veined White, Red Admiral, Peacock, five Comma and several Small Skippers, Meadow brown , Ringlet and numerous Gatekeepers.
Red Admiral
Gatekeeper in the meadows
Small Skipper.

25th July - Bright sunny morning with a few Butterflies on show, Gatekeepers appear very numerous at the moment, Ringlets and Meadow browns still around but again looking very worn, just singles of Red Admiral, Peacock and this lovely Comma , one of my favourite looking Butterflies.

The aftermath of a probable Badger attack on a Red Tailed Bumblebees nest was evident on the open pasture within the woodland, you can just make out the Red Tails at the bottom of the nest site.

Badger attack on Red Tailed Bumblebee nest

22nd July - Dull cloudy day weatherwise with just a few butterflies being seen, Ringlet, Meadow brown and a red Admiral, interestingly there was this little "pokemon" seen hiding in the grassy meadows.
" A real life Pokemon -  Skippo "

21st July - Much cooler today which I'm sure my dog appreciated, Butterfly numbers were down, a Few Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Gatekeepers, just one Speckled Wood, and one Small White, one Red Admiral, still no Common Blues or  Brown Argus which were a common sighting last year.

Bird sightings today included two juvenile Green Woodpeckers, Wren, Song Thrush and Blackbird.

Not much to be seen around the glades today although one small clump of ragwort had a good number of Cinnabar caterpillars munching away.

Still plenty of wildflower colour around the park, these caught my eye today.
Common Mallow

20th July - The sun still shines, and more and more Butterflies appearing now,  Ringlets and Meadow browns still around in good numbers although starting to look a little faded and tatty, a Speckled Wood made an appearance this morning the first for a while now, Red Admirals were more numerous with at least six seen, two pristine Peacock Butterflies also seen today. two Large White, and a few Green Veined whites were also seen, Small Skippers appearing everywhere in the long grass now, no Marbled whites seen today.

Common Blue butterflies seem conspicuous by their absence at the moment, seventeen species of Butterfly seen at this site so far this year.

Flushed a large brownish looking dragonfly from the edge of the glades which I could not identify with any certainty.

18th July - Good weather continues, and at long last the Butterflies are appearing in good numbers, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Small Skipper  only three or four Marbled Whites seen today, Gatekeepers have made a sudden appearance now appearing along the edge of the woodlands.
 Just one unidentified Dragonfly over the glades, possible Emperor or a species of Hawker, not sure which. a distant view.

17th July -  The warm sunshine had brought out the little digger wasps into full view today, they appear to be the Ornate-Tailed Digger wasps, on checking my records I did see this species here last year. I managed to get a few interesting images this time, a few with the wasp carrying its paralysed prey back to its burrow, which it uses as a host for its larvae.
 And a flight shot, this little wasp is no bigger than about half an inch, or a centimetre for you europeans.

Ornate-Tailed Digger Wasp

The glades were sown with wildflower seeds a few years ago, and now and then  throw up an unusual wildflower occasionally, this Musk Mallow, and they do smell a little musky, sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of the meadow.

Musk Mallow
Some good Butterfly sightings today with at least fifty plus Ringlets, Twenty five plus Meadow Browns, five Small Skippers, two Red Admirals, three Green Veined Whites and the surprise of the day at least ten Marbled Whites the most I have ever seen at this site.

Marbled White
A few clumps of Ragwort starting to flower, strangely just one Cinnabar caterpillar seen.

Cinnabar caterpillar 
This huge Labyrinth spider was seen low down in the long grass, with an interesting array of body parts left in its web.

Labyrinth Spider
16th July -  Bright sunny morning in the woodlands today, bird sightings still very sparse, a Wren, Few Blackbirds, two Magpies, Wood Pigeons could be heard unseen in the treetops.
An interesting encounter with a "Moth man" who had set his moth traps throughout the night in the woodland, unfortunately for me he was packing up his equipment, and most of his catch had been released, two moths however were lingering on a close by tree, The Orange moth probably a male and a woodland specialty, and a Lime Hawk-moth both past there best according to the expert, but nice to see anyway.

male Orange Moth

Lime Hawk-Moth

Back to the Butterflies, and still good numbers of Ringlets, seen mostly around the long grass of the meadows, at least fifty plus, a few Meadow Browns and just one Red Admiral. The Small Skipper colony was quite active today with five to six being seen again in the long grass.

Small Skipper male

11th July -  A brisk wind this morning kept the butterflies down, no Skippers seen at all today, a few Ringlets disturbed from the long grass in the glades and just one Red Admiral seen.

Along one of the dusty tracks a number of small holes have appeared, occupied it seems by a very small digger wasp, I could only see their heads as they peeped out of the holes only to scurry back out of sight when they caught sight of me hovering with the camera over the entrance of the hole.
I will try over the next few days to get an image of the wasp emerging from its burrow and try to identify it properly.

9th July - Another beautiful morning where the main focus has now shifted to Butterflies and wildflowers, saying that, I was accompanied by the song of the Chiffchaff as I searched for Skippers.
The small colony I have found in the glades continues to give me some good photo opportunities, allowing me to feature a whole blog page on them on my main blog " Pear tree and Beyond" coming soon, at least three Small Skippers seen today.

Still plenty of Ringlets and Meadow Browns and just a single Small White Butterfly.

Meadow Brown.
A closer look at some wildflowers today, a single flower of the " fireweed" or Rosebay willowherb.

and the blossom of the Blackberry now showing all around the woodlands and hedgerows.

Rosebay Willow herb

 8th July - All quiet in the woodlands barring a singing Song Thrush.

In the Glades, Ringlets continue to be the most numerous sighting of Butterfly, just one Meadow Brown, a single Small Tortoiseshell was the first seen here for me, and just a single Small Skipper seen in the usual small patch of favoured grassland.
Some different views of the same Small Skipper seen this morning.

Small Skipper

6th July -   Another bright sunny morning ( has it really been that wet here!)   Bird sightings very poor once again, but July in the woodlands can be very quiet at times, Butterfly sightings definitely on the increase now, once again mainly Ringlets but in good numbers, Meadow Browns increasing in numbers and today I found a small area of grassland with at least six Small Skippers flitting around.

Small Skipper
Just one Red Admiral seen basking on the pathway.

Red Admiral

There is still some activity around the Western Honey bee nest, lots of sightings around the glades with the Common Knapweed coming into flower.

Honey Bee on Common Knapweed
The only other sighting of interest was a distant view of a young Rabbit seen near the air raid shelters.

 5th July -  After returning from my holiday in sunnier climes, and the news that the local weather here has been very wet, which I  hate to admit, is always nice to hear when you are away in the sun. These vapour trails in the sky gave me a reminder of my long return journey home.

Blue Skies return
 I was keen to see how the woodland was looking on a gorgeous sunny morning. The main change I noticed as I entered the woodland was that the Bracken had grown to waist height along the pathways and the tall Rosebay Willowherb flower spikes were now in full bloom giving a lovely contrast of colour.
Rosebay Willowherb
I could hear a few of the local bird residents singing unseen in the trees,  Blackcap, Wren, a pair of Song Thrushes were disturbed from the undergrowth, along with a few Blackbirds, A Green Woodpecker flew up from the freshly cut grass around the old air raid shelters. As I approached the glades on the edge of the woodland a distant Pheasant was calling, the Common Whitethroat was still near Ashenbank pond, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Carrion Crows and a few Jackdaw were also seen.

Butterfly sightings have been very poor so far this year, my first Butterfly seen today was a fine Comma basking in the sunshine on an old dead tree, Ringlet butterflies were a common sighting this morning  along with a few Meadow Browns, and my first Skipper of the year was a  male Large Skipper.

Ringlet basking in sunshine
Large Skipper male
Butterfly list for this site in 2016 so far :-

Orange Tip
Red Admiral
Speckled Wood
Small Heath
Meadow Brown
Large Skipper
Small Skipper
Small Tortoiseshell
Small White
Green Veined White
Marbled White
Large White
Common Blue
Painted Lady

Blue and mauve seems to be the most prominent colour in the woodland flower scene, these caught my eye today.

Common chicory, Cichorium intybus
Viper's Bugloss
Prunella vulgaris (selfheal)