Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Honeybee swarm and more at Cranford Park

Primarily I was at Cranford Park today to do my regular UKBMS transect and the warm weather rewarded me with a total of 31 butterflies of seven different species
Brimstone x 2
Small White x 1
Orange Tip x 6
Holly Blue x 1
Peacock x 8
Comma x 5
Speckled Wood x 8
Most of the Speckled Woods were relay fresh indicating they had only recently emerged

but the individual below looks to have been a victim of a bird attack and was missing part of its lower wing

The Small White I saw today (below) was a solitary female and my first of the year
My first Holly Blue of the year was this male

Female Holly Blues have a much broader black band on their upper wing
But the most prolific were the Peacocks
These large butterflies are very common at this time of the year and often very approachable as they bask in the spring sun

Peacock underwing
Wherever there was a patch of bare soil there were several Bee-flies

The one above is the Dark-edged Bee-fly
The mild warm weather today meant there were quite a few hoverflies to be seen but all of the ones I managed to photograph today were of the Syrphus species and they were all male (the males eyes meet in the middle - females have a gap between their eyes)
syrphus sp male

syrphus sp male

syrphus sp male
The second reason I was at the park was because one of the regular dog walkers had reported a 'wasps nest' on one of the sign posts by the childrens playground - I was suspicious that it was actually a honeybee swarm and was glad to see I was right
I straight away phoned Alan and Betty (the local bee keepers) and within a few hours they had arrived at the park

At the same time as they arrived the swarm took off but I managed to follow it as it settled into a nearby shrub by the ha ha wall

It didn't take Alan long to knock the swam containing the Queen in to one of his boxes that was already laced with food
Any remaining 'scouts' soon followed the scent of the Queen and made their way in to the box
And I got a nice jar of honey for my trouble :)


Friday, 29 March 2019

Bee-flies and more at Cranford Park

The warm weather meant a lot of Bee-flies were seen today
These sneaky little critters are about the size of a thumb nail - they have a long slender proboscis (tongue) that some people think is their stinger
With their furry brown bodies and patterned wings they are very attractive bee mimics
When feeding they often hover next to nectar rich flowers and rest two legs on the flower head whilst feeding with their elongated tongue
Female Bee-flies hover above ground nesting bee holes (eg Mining Bees) and flick their eggs into the holes - When the Bee-fly egg hatches the larva attaches itself to the Mining Bee grub and literall sucks it dry

I also done my usual UKBMS transect this morning (butterfly count and record)
I spotted 12 butterflies of 5 different species along the transect route
Brimstone x 3
Orange Tip x1
Peacock x 5
Comma x 2
Speckled Wood x 1
Not bad for a March count although the numbers would have probably been higher had I walked the transect in the warmer afternoon
Speckled Wood

Along the river I had both Kingfishers whizz past and my first Blackcap of the year
I also heard a very much missed bird call - the female Kestrel was calling to her partner and although I could see her perched on one of the dead trees - I couldnt see him until they both flew off
The last time I heard that call last year it was just after the pair had mated so hopefully we'll some juveniles in July
record shot of Kestrel
Also seen was a lovely Nuthatch on the brick wall by the Information Centre - two Red Kites - one Common Buzzard
All over the park the air was full with calling birds but probably the most exciting for me was at least seven Green Woodpeckers calling from various sites - this proves to me that the Ring Necked Parakeets have NOT pushed this species of woodpecker out (some people say the parakeets take over all the available woodpecker nesting holes but I beg to differ and today certainly seemed to prove that)

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Overdue visit to Cranford CP

With various things going on in my life over the last few months today was my first proper visit to Cranford Park this year
The sun was out - the sky was blue - and the birds were singing
A perfect early Spring day
I saw four species of butterfly today but only managed to photograph two
Brimstone (male)

 On my UKBMS butterfly walk I had a total of eight male Brimstones and three female Brimstones
And a nice fat count of ten Commas
There was also one Peacock and two male Orange-tip
The majority of the Commas were very fresh and new but there were a couple of scruffy ones like the one below
And this one posed with wings closed showing exactly why they are called Comma - note the white 'comma' mark on the lower wing

The Brimstone is one of the earliest butterflies to be seen in Spring
Males are bright yellow (almost sulphur) and females are much paler
Their foodplant is Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn
Brimstones are long living butterflies that spend the winter months in hibernation
The Comma is also one of the first butterflies on the wing in Spring
Just like the Brimstone they can also hibernate though the winter months
Up by the Headland area of the park there were a pair of Common Buzzards soaring the thermals but I could only get one of them in the camera frame
In the Memorial Garden there was a Green Woodpecker looking for ants - not very good photos as it was a little far away

I had my first true hovefly sighting today (I've seen a few in the last couple of weeks but none have settled for id purposes)
Eristalis pertinax
 I was also pleasantly surprised to see my first Green Shield Bug of the year today - I dont normally see these until late April

I was at the park briefly on Friday too but without my camera - I saw one of he Kingfishers go under the M4 viaduct and a Little Egret was feeding up by the black iron bridge - there was also one of the Little Owls calling from the oaks but I couldnt see it

Monday, 8 October 2018

Overdue visit to London Wetland Centre

I popped over to the London Wetland Centre yesterday (7th Oct) for a short visit
The usual suspects were about

and I found quite a few critters including one shrub by the Peacock Tower that was covered in Harlequin Ladybirds in various states of development from larva to pupa to adult


There were also plenty of Common Green Shield Bugs out basking in the sun


There were lots of Hawkers inflight all over the reserve but I managed to find one fresh specimen that was perched nicely by the Wildside ponds - I think this is a Migrant Hawker

There were lost of Darters around too - they seemed to like settling on the warmth of the bridges
This is a Common Darter

The first bench as you walk into the Wildside area has always been a good place to spot Common Lizards - there is a hole in the side of the bench and this little beauty was obligingly curled up in it - as the sun warmed the bench so the little lizard popped out to get as much of the sun as possible

Only a short visit but still a good one