Wildlife sightings in 2013
Photos: Jenn Baker, Sheila Hawkins & Tricia Hawkins
☆March 10th: frogspawn in the pond! Will any survive this year? Small Tortoiseshell butterflies seen in the Orchard later this week.
☆ April 2nd : The pond is full of tadpoles!
￼On Easter Saturday, a chiffchaff was seen in the bee enclosure and later on the allotments.
☆11th April: the pond is still full of tadpoles. Quite small, but they have survived the frosts. Several pond skaters 'skating' about on the surface. When the sun was out, the bees were busy - coming and going in and out of the hive. (Thanks Paul Arthur & Gill Massey for this report)
☆ 8th May: pond absolutely heaving with tadpoles - most of them growing legs now.
☆12th May: a beautiful frog discovered during the Orchard working day!
☆ 6th June - report from Gill Massey
Our tadpoles are transforming. Some are still very much still tadpoles, some had grown back legs, others had back and front legs, and some were now little frogs. These last were coming out of the water to sit on trailing vegetation at the edge. Some may have already left the water, but it was a warm sunny day so they had probably sought shelter from the sun under surrounding plants. I also spotted some caddis fly larvae swimming around. There were 4 empty dragonfly nymph cases on the iris leaves but no sign of any adults. They are likely to have been broad bodied chasers as they are about now (one seen in the community allotment a couple of weeks ago). I also saw some common blue damselflies.
The first baby grasshoppers I have seen this year must have hatched a short while ago as they were very tiny and enthusiastically leaping into the pond to the delight of our pond skaters who found them an easy meal. I rescued a few, on the grounds that the pond skaters had plenty of other creatures to eat!
We have a few plants of yellow rattle in the wildlife area, but a lot more on the orchard and up at Jubilee Green, and it's flowering well in all areas. It is noticeable that in the places where the yellow rattle is growing, the grass is much less vigorous, so hopefully we should be able to put some wildflower plug plants in these areas.
☆ 7th July
A newt happy to pose for a photo opportunity! There are still plenty of large tadpoles (not yet with legs) and some very tiny frogs.
On 29th August, a garden tiger moth was spotted resting on the polytunnel in the Community Allotments. It is strongly marked in black and white with a red underwing to detract predators.
☆ On 31st August, several common darters were flying over the pond plus one common hawker dragonfly. Lots of grasshoppers in the long grass (thankfully they didn't all drown in the pond when babies). As well as several tortoiseshell butterflies, we saw a clouded yellow butterfly flying up the hedge between the orchard and the allotments.This is quite a rare butterfly for England as it migrates across the Channel on favourable winds. Some years lots may appear, in other years none at all.
Thanks to Gill Massey and Paul Arthur for this report
☆ November 10th:
The sunny weather brought out a Red Admiral butterfly and even a ladybird was seen crawling about.
The pond, not surprisingly, is looking its fullest for some months. All fairly quiet there but still quite a lot of pond skaters of all sizes scooting about on the water surface. I also spotted a couple of water boatmen swimming just below the surface.
Both bee hives had a lot of bees going in and out and bringing back a good quantity of pollen. Some of this might be from ivy flowers which are a good source of pollen and nectar at this late time of year. A cluster of ivy flowers in the sun will often have crowds of flies, bees, wasps and late butterflies on it, making the most of the last nectar feast of the year.
A small party of long tailed tits flew into the orchard from a nearby oak tree and investigated the hedge between the orchard and allotments. At this time of year long tailed tits can be found in groups of varying sizes flying along hedges and moving round trees in search of insects.
☆ November 16th: Harlequin ladybirds in the Orchard?