Sunday, 23 April 2017

Ladybirdfest and more at Cranford Park

Initially I was at Cranford Park today to try to locate suitable woodpecker nesting sites. I had a little success with two Green Woodpecker sites, but nothing for the Great Spotted Woodpecker. Despite hearing both birds calling on and off throughout the couple of hours I was there, I only managed fleeting glimpses of three Greens and just one GSW, and no photos at all.
 
A pair of Common Buzzards were soaring quite low over the woods making that fantastic 'mewing' call. I say a pair but thinking back I'm wondering if one was a juvenile. The way it seemed to 'follow' the other rather than soar together made me think that. Again no photos as I was already in the woods and could only follow their progress through the trees canopy.
 
Just like yesterday the majority of the bird song heard today were Wrens and Blackcaps.
 
I managed one half way decent photo of a calling Wren....
 
 
and one poor heavily cropped photo of a male Blackcap.....

 
The Common Whitethroats that return from Africa to breed at Cranford Park are back.
I counted five calling birds today, but managed just one distant photo......

 
It was reasonably cool when the sun hid behind the clouds, and any ladybirds out and about just hid until the sun re-appeared. I counted five 14-spot, three 7-spot and twelve Harlequin....
 
14-spot
7-spot

7-spot

Harlequin

newly emerged Harlequin
Sitting on the log in Bluebell Dell, I found my first Cardinal Beetle of the year. This is the Black-headed Cardinal (Pyrochroa coccinea). He/she was very happy to pose for me in the dappled woodland sun....
 


 
There were quite a few hoverflies about but I resisted losing too much time photographing them today. This little fluffy one was by Frog Ditch near the grain field.....
 
Leucozona lucorum - male
 The wild Honeybee hive in the stable block (the bricked up arch one) was very active today......
 
 
Love was still in the air for some of the shield bugs. These photos are especially for my mate Paul P who wanted more 'insect porn'.....
 
mating Green Shield bugs

These ones were in exactly the same position as the four I photographed yesterday afternoon. Mating Dock Bugs.
Last but not least a photo of one of our native Bluebells....
 
 
Not long now until the bluebell season is over. As always Cranford Woods put on a great display.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Love and murder at Cranford Park

My friend Dave joined me for the butterfly transect this morning and it was zero sightings all the way round until we got to the last section, when the sun finally came out and we had eight butterflies within a few minutes.
Very poor count overall though.
 
8 butterflies / 3 species
Orange tip 4
Holly Blue 1
Speckled Wood 3
 
Orange Tip male

Speckled Wood
After Dave left I went back to the same section. It's a patch of scrub (brambles, nettles, umbellifers, dandelions etc) with a grass path through the middle and situated next to a stagnant pond.
 
As the sun continued to shine I was lucky enough to witness this behaviour between two male and one female Orange Tip. The female was being courted by one male, when a smaller male tried to take over. The resulting battle meant the female was at times hanging on for her life. Eventually the smaller male took the hint and flew off.....
 




 
leaving the larger male to continue his courtship.....


 
until he was satisfied and they separated....

 
then he fluttered off leaving the female to bask in the sun....

 
Other critters with love on their mind were my favourite prehistoric looking Dock Bugs.....
 


 
Along with the Docks I also saw Common Green Shieldbugs today....
 


 
and my first ever tiny Pied Shield Bug.....
 
 
Love was also in the air for this pair of Yellow Dung Flies.....
 
 
That's enough of the lovey dovey stuff.......
Now for some cold blooded murder....
 
Regular readers of my blog know that I like trying to identify the many species of hoverfly that we're lucky enough to have at Cranford Park.
One of the most common species is the Marmalade Fly (Episyrphus balteatus).
This poor female below had the misfortune to fly in to a spiders web.....
 




 
and was swiftly killed, wrapped in silk and carried to the spiders lair under a nettle leaf.
I'm still trying to confirm ID on the spider, but there were several of them along the same scrubby patch.
 
Other hoverflies that were basking included the ones below.....
 
Myathropa florea

Syrphus sp

Heliophilus pendulus

Dasysyrphus sp.
The sun bought out a lot of Large Red Damselflies, some with prey (like below) and others just resting......
 


 
Not many ladybird species seen in the cooler weather today, but I did find three 14-spots all along the same scrubby patch.....
 



 
Again no bird photos on todays blog. There was plenty of bird activity with Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Wrens, Green Woodpeckers and Great Spotted Woodpeckers calling. Next week I will try to concentrate a bit more on them.
 
St Dunstans church is now open every Saturday from 10.30am and will be open every Saturday until the end of September.
 
When I first arrived on the park this morning I bumped in to our local beekeeper. I keep him posted on any wild hives I find in the woods.
The two wild hives at the stable block (one in the ivy clad wall in the Secret Garden and the other in the second archway along) are both still active. The beekeeper advised that he estimates within the next two-three weeks both hives will probably swarm, just like last year when he removed a great sized swarm from the ivy by the cellars. He has asked that we park visitors keep our eyes peeled. If anyone sees a swarm can you let me know either by email (wendywinomarks@hotmail.co.uk) or on the Friends of Cranford Park facebook page.
 
Overall a sorry start to the day that improved when the sun came out. And it was lovely to walk the transect with Dave, a first time visitor to Cranford Park.
Result - a day of smiles and laughter, and some lovely photo opportunities once the sun finally decided to shine.