Saturday, 27 May 2017

Woodpeckers and butterflies at Cranford Park

The Great Spotted Woodpecker nest in Bluebell Dell is still active. The chicks are now at the stage where not only are they continually calling but they're also peering out of the nest hole. I found it incredibly hard to photograph them due to the shady part of the wood where they've chosen to nest and the fact I didn't want to get too close and disturb the birds, so all of my photos are not only heavily lightened but heavily cropped too.....
 





 
This is the female below with the all black head.....


 
Males have a red splotch on the back of their neck and the juveniles have red caps.
I reckon that the young will have fledged before my next visit so it was a real pleasure to watch them this morning.
 
The warm weather had bought out a lot of hoverflies but the fairly strong wind made photography challenging. I managed just two today......
 
Eupeodes luniger

Syrphus torvus
Nearly every buttercup had a critter in it.
This is the male Thick-legged Flower Beetle....
 
 
I was joined on my UKBMS butterfly transect by this little critter below that hitched a ride on my clipboard. I'm pretty sure its a Speckled Bush Cricket nymph....


nymph next to nib of my pen for size comparison
The transect went well today with three 'firsts of the year', but would probably been better had the wind not been so strong.
 
I spotted 14 butterflies of 8 species during my 90 minute walk.
 
Large Skipper x 1 (first of the year)
Small Copper x 1 (first of the year)
Common Blue x 1 (first of the year)
Holly Blue x 1
Red Admiral x 1
Peacock x 2
Speckled Wood x 6
Small Heath x 1
 
Speckled Wood

Speckled Wood

Common Blue (male)

Common Blue (male)

Common Blue (male)

Common Blue (male)
 
Small Copper (female)

Small Copper (female)

Small Copper (female)

Small Copper (female)
 
Large Skipper (male)

Red Admiral

Red Admiral
At the end of my transect I stopped to add up my tally and found myself sitting right next to this pair of damselflies mating. These are Azure damselflies, very beautiful and light.
 
 
I had a great four hour visit. Although the sun was fairly strong, the cool wind meant it was fairly bearable.
 
 
 
 
 
 


Sunday, 21 May 2017

Early start at Cranford Park

I was at Cranford Park at 7.30am this morning, all in the hope of catching up with the Little Owls. Within twenty minutes I had found one but it spotted me at the same time and I managed one very poor photo before it flew away to another oak.......
 
 
I hung around for another hour but to no avail. The juveniles should be visible in about 2-3 weeks.
 
By the wood circle the noise of other juvenile birds filled the air. Probably the most vocal were the Blackcaps and I could just see a juvenile through the foliage....

 
An adult Song Thrush was calling loudly from another tree near the circle....

 
The Common Whitethroats at the Headland were also vocal although I couldn't see any juveniles, just a few adults.....




 
Buttercups and daisys are flowering all over the park. I tend to check every buttercup flower as they seem to be very attractive to little critters.
This one below is a sawfly larvae.....
 

 
In Bluebell Dell there's a favourite log of mine (and Sheila's favourite too). I was resting there when I heard the unmistakeable incessant call of young Great Spotted Woodpeckers. It didn't take long to locate where the noise was coming from......
 
There is an old broken branch that fell ages ago and lodged itself between some other branches eventually coming to rest hanging upside down.....

 
The woodpeckers have taken advantage of the dead branch and made a nice size hole.....
 
 
Both male and female GS Woodpeckers were actively feeding the youngsters but it was incredibly hard to get a decent focused photo and I didn't want to try too hard or get too close in case I disturbed the birds....


 
Later in the day I found another two nest sites, again purely by hearing the youngsters calling, but no photos of either of them as both trees were inaccessible.
 
Another buttercup gave up a male Thick-legged Flower Beetle....
 
 
And there were plenty of Cardinal Beetles around, this one is the Black-headed Cardinal......

 
Last weekend one of the main paths was blocked by a fallen tree, today I found that there are now main paths blocked by fallen trees.....


 
Today's butterfly transect wasn't as good as I had hoped.
 
14 butterflies of 6 species
 
Brimstone x 1
Green-veined White x 1
Holly Blue x 2
Red Admiral x 1
Peacock x 5
Speckled Wood x 4
 
Red Admiral

Red Admiral
I checked all three wild Honeybee hives that I know of, and all three were very active. I couldn't get a decent photo of the oak tree hive but had more success with the bricked archway hive and the Secret Garden ivy hive...
 

 
One new hoverfly species for me today. This is one of the tiny little black jobs, Cheilosia sp but I cant narrow it down any more than that....
 
 
A very pleasant seven hour visit, most of which was spent on my bum observing the wildlife our wonderful park has to offer.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Lizards, and other creatures, at the London Wetland Centre

 
I went on a very overdue visit to the London Wetland Centre this morning. The weather was sunny albeit a little windy but with intermittent showers forecast for the afternoon.
 
It was nice to see some colour amongst the lush greenery...
 

 
I saw four species of butterfly before the rain came. The Brimstone and Red Admiral wouldn't settle long enough for a photo, but I managed to get my first record shots of the year of a male Common Blue......


 
and a tatty female Holly Blue settled briefly nearby......

 
I also had my first Mint Moth of the year (aka Small Purple and Gold Moth).....

 
There were a couple of juvenile Herons around......
 
 
From the WWT Hide there was a lone Redshank......

 
which ventured nearer and nearer.....


 
and I managed to add a new photo to my 'Birds Bums' album......

 
I found four species of Ladybird this morning.
 
The 22-spot.....
 
 
7-spot....

 
2-spot...

 
and of course the Harlequins.......


 
I also found lots of hoverflies and managed to photograph four species.....
 
Syrphus sp. side shot.....
 
 
Eristalis sp. side shot....

 
my first ever Anasimyia lineata......



 
and Episyrphus balteatus.....

 
But I think the high-light of my morning was watching the Common Lizards.
 I saw about ten but a few scuttled away before I could grab a photo.
 



 


 
There were good numbers of bumble bees around including this gorgeous Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum).....
 
 
And despite the chilly wind I found a female Azure damselfly.....

 
and a male Blue-tailed damselfly....

 
In the little herb garden there was a very obliging Jay.......
 

 
and all over the site I saw my first Thick-legged Flower Beetles of the year.
The one below is the male with those wonderful thunder thighs.....

 
and in comparison this is the rather drab female....

 
I managed to reach the Wildside Hide before the first heavy rain shower appeared.
And it really was heavy rain.
 
The Shelduck didn't appear to mind... 
 
 
Nor did the Tufted Duck...

 
I made my way home shortly afterwards but it was lovely to revisit my old haunt.
 I really mustn't leave it so long next time.