Wildlife sightings March - July 2014
Thanks to: Gill Massey (BCOG Wildlife Monitor), Paul Arthur, Andy Jefferies & Orchard neighbours for providing our reports; and to Malcolm Drew, Andy Jefferies & Sheila Hawkins for the photos
❂ 1st - 3rd March: The pond was seen to be full of frogspawn, which then strangely vanished, but fortunately has been replenished!
❂ 30th March: Some tadpoles, but not as many as in previous years. This could be due to the presence of dragonfly larvae, also visible in the pond.
Also seen: lots of pondskaters, some tiny, so they are obviously already breeding. Whirlygig beetles are living up to their name on the pond surface. In the wildflower patch, the yellow rattle that we sowed last year is coming up and should get to grips with the couch grass to give the other flowers a look in. Honey bees (hopefully orchard residents), bumble bees, and tortoiseshell butterflies also enjoying the sunshine. Gill Massey
❂ 2nd May: Report from Gill Massey
Several adult dragonflies and nymphs in the longer grass in front of the pond and in the wildflower patch this morning. The adults had obviously only recently emerged from their nymph cases and were drying and expanding their wings in the sun. Some nymphs were clinging on to the grass in preparation for emerging, and one or two were crawling about. We had to be very careful about where we walked. Counted about 8 adults and 5 nymphs. All were the Broad bodied or Broad tailed Chaser, Libellula depressa. When newly hatched, both sexes look the same colour, but later the males are blue and the females yellowy brown. Why they decided to hatch in the grass is a mystery. Last year, the nymphs climbed up the yellow flag iris and other water plants in the pond to emerge, which is more normal behaviour.
Photos - Malcolm Drew
❂ 11th May - While we were clearing our big pile of grass cuttings, about half a dozen slow worms were discovered. They are often to be found in the various compost bins, liking the warmth generated there.
Despite a rather brisk wind, a Holly Blue butterfly was basking in the sunshine in the main orchard area, probably a male as the females have more black on the borders of their wings, and this was a lovely brilliant plain blue. This is usually the first blue butterfly of the year to be seen. In spring, the caterpillars feed on holly flowers, and in autumn the second brood feed on ivy buds.
A few more Broad Bodied Chasers were emerging from their nymph cases again in the grass by the edge of the pond.
In the pond itself, we saw two newts and one small adult frog. No signs of any tadpoles or tiny froglets. Another small frog was seen in the bee enclosure. The whirlygig beetles were speeding about on the pond surface as usual. Apparently they have two sets of eyes for seeing above and below the water.
Gill Massey and Paul Arthur
❂ 14th May - there are hedgehogs in the Orchard!
Thanks to Andy Jefferies for providing the evidence (using a footprint tunnel, below)
❂ June 2014
Female Emperor dragonfly laying eggs in the pond; blue damselflies
❂ July 13th: Several Ringlets (a dark brown butterfly that flies in among long grass) as well as Meadow Browns and a Gatekeeper. A Large Skipper and a couple of Small Tortoiseshells were enjoying the nectar from a thistle in the bee enclosure. Apart from the Tortoiseshell larvae which feed on nettles, the larvae of all the others feed on various grasses, (of which we have a lot). Plenty of grasshoppers about, too.