Sunday 16 July 2017

Standing in a Woodland Glade

Good news, I’ve found me a bit of ancient woodland to explore! It’s just up the road and is quiet and cool and teeming with life. One of my favourite things to do is to find a stretch of mixed habit, preferably with a good stand of nettles or brambles, and just watch and listen. A vigil for the tinniest movement or the slightest sound.

In this sunny glade last Tuesday, I was treated to 18 species of bird in just 15 minutes:
  1. Bullfinch
  2. Treecreeper
  3. Nuthatch
  4. Coal Tit
  5. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  6. Great Tit
  7. Blue Tit
  8. Blackcap
  9. Song Thrush
  10. Blackbird
  11. Goldcrest
  12. Chiffchaff
  13. Robin
  14. Wren
  15. Long-tailed Tit
  16. Woodpigeon
  17. Pheasant
  18. Swift
Not too far away, in a more open area, near the River Avon, there was a singing Lesser Whitethroat and Reed Warbler.

Butterflies were plentiful too, of 13 species, including half a dozen Silver-washed Fritillary:
  1. Silver-washed Fritillary
  2. Ringlet
  3. Meadow Brown
  4. Gatekeeper
  5. Small Skipper
  6. Large Skipper
  7. Large White
  8. Small White
  9. Peacock
  10. Small Tortoiseshell
  11. Red Admiral
  12. Comma
  13. Holly Blue
Behind me at this spot is a lovely big Honey Suckle, so I’m hoping White Admiral might be a possibility on another visit.

Below are just a few of the species that crossed my path during a wander on Wednesday

Silver-washed Fritillary Mrs Blackcap collecting food for young Resting Red Admiral
Female Southern Hawker Hornets visiting an old woodpecker nest site A super striking parasitic Wasp species
Chiffchaff hide & seek Song Thrush’s anvil, complete with snail shells Foraging Treecreeper

The parasitic wasp species was a new one to me and is perhaps Ichneumon extensorius, although narrowing down to species from a photograph isn’t really possible. I think this group of insects requires microscopic examination to positively identify.

Saturday 8 July 2017

All the better for butterflies!

Hello! *as the tumbleweed rolls across my toes*….I know, it's nearly a year since I last wrote. The thing is, I had a cunning plan. You know the kind, where you decide to up sticks after 20 years living in the same area and almost 18 years in the same house. It really did seem like a good idea at the time. I was blissfully ignorant of the crippling stress, chronic sleep deprivation and sense of total bewilderment that accompanies a process like that. Still, I am alive, just, and I’ve survived more than 6 weeks in my new pad in leafy Warwickshire.

Moving 75 miles away from cherished wild spaces and a landscape which has woven itself into my very soul is a big adjustment. Nestled within me are all those hundreds of hours of quiet wandering, wondering; the joys, frustrations; the patience and the pleasure of discovering new species; of accompanying them through the seasons and finding that their lives have become intimately connected to my own. As the years went by, the rhythm of relationship forged deeper and more lasting grooves, and the visceral familiarity of old friends blossomed. Each visit brought profound comfort and relief.

Thankfully, Warwickshire does have wildlife! In the face of hot tears, and anxiety as persistent and rampant as Japanese knotweed, the medicine of birds and butterflies and their living landscape has begun to trickle into my life here.

Common Spotted Orchid back there & Dark Green Fritillary on Hawkbit sp (I think!?!), Harbury Spoilbank

Reed Warbler on the River Avon

The Bramble Wars of Silver-washed Fritillary near Stratford-Upon-Avon

Last Sunday, I added two new species to my butterfly life-list. I cannot tell you how chuffed I was. I’ve spent many hours standing under Oaks on Box Moor Trust land, cricked neck, staring up in hope. I never did find a Purple Hairstreak. An hour spent at Goldicote Cutting, and I’d seen my first Purple Hairstreak alongside the other new species, White-letter Hairstreaks which included an egg laying female! The photos are atrocious but who cares.

Purple Hairstreak
White-letter Hairstreak

Hopefully, it won't be another 11 months before I write again....!

P.S. Garden delights so far include nesting Blackbirds, bouncy Frogs and a big bumbling Hedgehog