Another wicked month of unpredictable weather that meant that sightings were low throughout.
A highpoint early on was the public walk on the 5th that saw 25 folk pootle along and contribute to an end list of 90 species in just over 2 hours showing what an array of wildlife can be found just on your doorstep. Butterflies and moths were represented by several regular species but a Ruby Tiger larva (Phragmatobia fuliginosa) and a Grey Dagger larva (Acronicta psi) were particularly noteworthy.
Prior to the walk I spotted Britain’s biggest Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria) feeding on a Creeping Thistle Cirsium arvense) head and 2 Pied Hoverflys (Volucella pellucens) were noted nearby after having a very bad year so far.
The Spider (Araneus quadratus) was a good discovery from one of the younger members of the group with its banded legs and ornately patterned body duly gushed over and several Tachnid Flies (Eriothrix rufomaculata) were identified with their hairy bodies and red sided abdomens.
Flowers on show were as varied as usual with many emanating delicious scents if one took the time to rub the leaves and have a sniff. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), Marjoram (Origanum vulgare), Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) and Pineappleweed (Matricaria discoidea) all give off quite distinct smells and adds to the charm of this area, especially for the nosey nature hunter.
Fungi were just starting to appear this month with the 5th producing Inocybe dulcamara; Tarzetta catinus and Ergot (Claviceps purpurea) whilst throughout the month Leopard Earthballs (Scleroderma areolatum) could be found especially along the pathside walk near the motorway.
On the 13th a lone banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) flitted about atop some rather lush vegetation and was looking in tiptop condition. The 20th saw me spend an hour in the orchard where the following butterfly and moth species were noted:- Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui); Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus); Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus); Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria); Comma (Polygonia c-album); Large White (Pieris brassicae); Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina); Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis) and Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis). Hoverflies were also out enjoying the snippet of sun, these were represented by:- Helophilus pendulus (*3); Episyrphus balteatus (*1); Syrphus ribesii (*1); Eristalis nemorum (*1); Myathropa florea (*1); Volucella inanis (*1); Epistrophe grossulariae (*1); Eristalis intricaria (*3); Eristalis pertinax (*1) and Sericomyia silentis (*1).
Most of the wildlife species seen were enjoying the joys of the Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) flowers with a small Tephrid Fly (Chaetorellia jaceae) also noted with its green eyes and nicely decorated wings.
Bramble (Rubus agg) was now in fruit and tomorrow I shall have a Blackberry and Plum combination snack on the way home. It was nice to see a fine Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) in splendid flower nearby the old railway bridge.
The month ended with more unsettled weather, what’s new!
We are very grateful to FP for taking the time to record and send us these nature notes. He’ll send us his monthly log every couple of months so keep an eye out for them on the website.