30/6/2014 Sunny and very warm. 10:30-11:30
An hour at Wilford Claypits was thoroughly enjoyable though what I thought was a Lesser Cream Wave (pretty scarce in Notts) was determined by the county recorder to be just a palish form of the Small Fan-footed Wave. I rarely doubt her much greater experience (and in fact when I look carefully she is clearly correct).
Other moths were the boring crambids, Crysoteuchia culmella, Crambus perlella and Crambus pascuella with Latticed Heath, Cinnabar, Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnet, and several Burnet Companion.
Butterflies weren't well represented but both Small and Large Skippers were numerous.
Cicadella viridis, a leaf hopper, was numerous in places and several nymph Long-winged Coneheads were seen. As nymphs, these can be confused with Short-winged Coneheads and a careful look at the ovipositor (in females) is crucial. Short-winged were claimed for Notts a few years ago, but I've yet to find one.
Ian has been out ringing and sent these photos of a Cuckoo that has been out-growing its Reed Warbler's nest. It's not in Keyworth Meadow but near enough.
26/6/2014 Sunny and very warm. 09:00 - 13:00
Joined for RuBOP today by daughter Elly now free from A levels. The good year continues with good broods of Barn Owls and, for a change, five Kestrel chicks.
25/6/2014 Sunny and very warm. 10:00-1:00
Botanically, I leave a lot to be desired but what I lack in knowledge, I more than make up for in wildflower field guides and this has just been extended with the purchase of the Collins Field Guide by David Streeter et al. Mr Streeter attempted to teach me botany at Slapton Ley in 1974 and Flatford Mill in 1975 so, given that he was an expert then, I expected the book to be infallible.
Is the stem of the plant above winged? I think so as well but Streeter's key to Vicia and Lathyrus would then insist that the plant must be Vicia bithynica (rare and declining) Lathyrus palustris (confined largely to the Norfolk Broads) or Lathyrus japonicus (shingle beaches). The plant is actually Common Vetch (Vicia sativa) which Francis Rose's Wildflower Key took me to with ease.
Keys would be great if they actually worked every time and sometimes its a matter of interpretation of "more or less" or understanding what the author means by a spine - is it a spine under a x10 hand lens or with the naked eye? I try to use keys because I don't have confidence in my identifications from illustrations alone - they are often poor or unhelpful. Perhaps I am destined to struggle. (Stace (1991) says that Vicia has a stem "± not winged (often ridged)" so perhaps that's a ridge in the photo!).
I have no problem with Goldfinches though:
Broad-bodied Chasers, Large Red Damselfy and Azure Damselfy were at Willow Pond which shows that the enhancements have had some beneficial effect - there never used to be any. Butterflies though were in small numbers with no whites at all (though I'm not complaining after last year's cabbage gobbling spree). Red Admirals, Speckled Woods, Small Tortoiseshells, Large Skippers, Ringlets, Meadow Browns and two tatty Brimstones were seen.
And the Chub were unusually approachable:
22/6/2014 Cloudless and warm. 08:00-10:00
A family of Whitethroats along Lings Lane and a few butterflies but nothing like the number that were around last year, though there's time yet. Large Skippers are now appearing widely.
Yellow Shell was disturbed here and there and Chimney Sweepers were flying well away from the Pignut area. Both are moths and the former could easily be mistaken for a butterfly with Small Heath being the likely confusion species. The damsels and dragons were still around one of Tim's ponds and they included Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella
19/6/2014 Cloudy and cool but getting warmer
Barn Owl project from 9.00 till 3.00 which was disappointing until the last box, with only one owl to show for it (an adult hatched at Thorpe in the Glebe in 2012 and now living at East Leake) till we got to Barton in Fabis where five young Barn Owls were kitted out with shiny rings and notes were made of their particulars. We were joined for the photoshoot by Angela and Harriet.
One of my two pet Harvest Mice died on 1st June aged 3½ years and this morning his brother passed away too. Yesterday he was very poorly and I cared for him as best I could with drips of water and a treat of chocolate. At 6.30am he was still alive and I gave him another drop of water and then he died. They have attracted small crowds at Wildlife Trust events and entertained children at Watch groups so they did their best for conservation and 3½ is a ripe old age for a 6 gram mouse.
46 sp in the moth trap this morning included four Beautiful Hook-tip.
2pm till 5pm. Very warm.
Not many butterflies around given the warmth - just ones and twos of Speckled Wood, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown and I think I glimpsed a Large Skipper. A Ghost Moth that had become entangled and was being sucked dry by four Scorpion Flies Panorpa sp. was an bizarre sight.
There is a small schoal of Chub in the brook and a Broad-bodied Chaser was hunting over their pool but at one of Tim's ponds there were three males and a female as well as a Southern Hawker and many Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies.
At the same pond, I found Pink Water Speedwell Veronica catenata and earlier, I managed to get a few shots of a pair of Grey Partridge from behind a hedge.
I'm pleased to say that my identification of Common Spotted Orchid was correct but it turns out that my suspicion that is was unusual to find one in an old field is not justified - at least at a Nottinghamshire level. However, I do still believe that in Rushcliffe there isn't much agricultural land with even this, the commonest Notts orchid, popping up and that most orchids are on brown-field sites now.
I had another look at the field (to identify the umbellifer and decided it was just stunted hogweed) and found something that may be even rarer than the orchid! Not a species though but a white form of the very common Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris).
I followed up a phone call from Tim who had found an orchid in a field near Wysall. I think it's a Common Spotted Orchid but despite its epithet I believe it's very uncommon to find one growing in its historic habitat of meadows/pastures - the field has prominent ridge and furrow with some hay rattle and goatsbeard. Also a small white-flowered umbellifer that I don't know.
As far as I'm aware, Rushcliffe orchids are reduced to ex-industrial habitats like old gravel and clay pits.
26/05/2014 Sunny morning
Kingfisher seen at Willow Pond by Karl Gillott - thanks.
If you have children and hope they will become future David Attenboroughs or Chris Packhams (I prefer the former!) take a look at the link from the Links page to a new site aimed at getting the kids wild about nature - Wildlife Trackers
25/05/2014 Sunny afternoon
An attempted exploration of Flintham Wood was rather abortive though the hike from East Stoke base camp/car park was enjoyable. The meadows along the banks of the Trent had, Banded Demoiselle, Common Blue Damselfly, Common Blue Butterfly and Small Heath with Sand Martins over the river and Sedge Warblers singing from the bank. We eventually found the footpath into the wood but after 50 metres resolved to return with a panga to bludgeon our way through the shoulder-high nettles and fallen trees. More on Flintham Wood at Rushcliffe Wildlife.co.uk.
22/05/2014 09:30 - 14:00. Rain easing then sunny
A Rushcliffe Barn Owl session around Keyworth, Widmerpool and Bunny. The Little Owl I'd seen earlier in the year along Lings Lane has been busy rearing 6 chicks (an unusually big brood). They attracted a lot of "oohs" and "aahs" from a couple of horsey ladies we met there (I'm sorry girls - I didn't get your names). Sorry for the awful photos taken with my mobile phone.
Later we spotted two more Little Owls and found several boxes with Barn Owls in occupancy (one with 5 tiny chicks and 2 eggs) and another with a Kestrel and chicks. There were lots of Linnets in the fields.
20/05/2014 10:00 - 14:00. Overcast start but becoming warmer and sunnier.
A gentle (but tiring) 10km stroll along the Great Central Railway south of Rushcliffe Halt in the company of "Butterfly" Bill Bacon and others on the annual quest for Grizzled Skippers. We found half a dozen adults but despite Bill's untiring efforts at most patches of Creeping Cinquefoil, no eggs. Small Copper, Brown Argus and the year's first Red Admiral added interest.
18/05/2014 Sunny and very warm with a breeze.
A single Yellow Wagtail was the star bird of the well-attended Open Day Walk led by Mike Reid and Neil Pinder, but the pair of Broad-bodied Chaser at the enlarged Willow Pond and a pair of courting Brimstone butterflies were the entomological equivalent. Chris Cooper's sharp eye and photographic skills picked up the beetles Pyrochroa serraticornis and Crepidodera aurata (Willow Flea Beetle) as well as the female Libellula depressa shown below.
15/05/2014 Sunshine and warmth
A Redstart was the star bird of the morning and a new one for the area, though a more prolonged view (greater than the silhouetted 10 seconds or so) would have been nice. Three Yellow Wagtails also went down nicely but otherwise it was Buzzards (3), Bullfinches and Black & Red Froghoppers that caught the eye.
Days and days of "organised" showers have limited field excursions, but my first Swifts were over the house on 7th May and on the same day Ian Blackmore sent me this photo of Tree Sparrow eggs in one of the nest boxes along with the news that three of the boxes were occupied by Tree Sparrows and another by Blue Tits.
This morning I noticed that the pupa of the Privet Hawkmoth I'd reared was active so I went to get some sticks for the emerged moth to climb up and by the time I'd got back the imago was out!
05/05/2014 Cloudy and warm.
More Whitethroats today than Lesser Whitethroats (or at least they were far more vocal the latter). A couple of Bullfinches and Pied Wagtails were the only other birds worth a mention. Drinker moth larvae are often very visible in the Meadow but (as adults) they are quite an unusual species in my garden trap.
Can anyone identify this crucifer/brassica? The fruits are more than 3x longer than wide, it's hairless and about 70cm tall growing in the field that was flailed last year for the first time in a couple of decades.
02/05/2014 Cloudy and chilly.
A brief circuit with nothing to mention but a pleasing shot of Swallows courtship feeding - shame the light wasn't better.
01/05/2014 Calm, cloudy, warm.
In consolation of no badger pic, here's one of its footprints;
A quick circuit to recce the sett for next time was followed by a visit to the lane that was curtailed due to impending rainfall but I did get a bad photo of a Water Shrew which I found under a tin whilst looking for reptiles.
I've only ever come across Water Shrews once before; I watched one for some time diving and resurfacing in the same area in a village-green pond in Essex. Otherwise I can't recall seeing a live shrew of any species until now and this is despite looking under tins on many occasions and occasional trapping for small mammals. I used to hear them but that is now a virtue lost to ageing. Water Shrews may be more common than is realised. This Rabbit, having left its escape plans too late has become invisible instead: