Heatwave or no heatwave, the butterflies still carry on. You're probably more likely to see butterflies in greater numbers when it's a few degrees cooler but they still have the ultimate purpose in life to find and mate with as many partners as possible.
Right at the end of my transect today at Cranford Park this stunning Jersey Tiger Moth appeared. There were three in total but only this one settled long enough to get a photo.
The tally for todays UKBMS transect …..
Large White x 10
Small Copper x 7
Common Blue x 1
Holly Blue x 6
Red Admiral x 1
Speckled Wood x 9
Gatekeeper x 8
Meadow Brown x 29
Small Heath x 11
Small Heath numbers are still going up and that is a great result for Cranford Park where we rarely see the second flush of these tiny little beauties. And the Meadow Brown numbers are up on last week, when I was worried that they were in a steep decline. So generally all round, todays count was very good considering the heat.
|a tatty aged Gatekeeper|
|a fresh Small Heath|
When I left the park I walked back via the woods and paths that lead to Watersplash. In the sheltered grasses at the back of the houses I found a Purple Hairstreak. I can never get a good photo of these fidgety little butterflies but it was still great to see one. I cant even put it on my butterfly count as it was way off my transect route, but I will let my UKBMS Mentor know that these appear to be spreading across the park. They are not that rare, just rarely seen as they spend most of their lives in the oak tree canopies. I have found that I tend to see them at the park when the summer has been particularly warm. The heat causes some trees to prematurely drop their leaves, and I guess that's why butterflies like this come down to the ground.
|a very bad photo of Purple Hairstreak|
The girls in the Cattle Paddock don't really mind the heat too much. There's plenty of shade if they want it and a huge water trough that is automatically topped up.
The resident Kestrel family were very active whilst I was walking through the paddock doing the butterfly count. I saw all five (both adults and three juveniles) at one point.
My first three photos were quite hard to take due to the heat haze that was coming off the meadows …..
|Spot the Kestrel|
|Spot the Kestrel|
|Spot the Kestrel|
One young female was content to stay perched on one of the tree guards and she let me get fairly close. I could see she was feeling the heat and often sat with her beak open …...
and I was lucky enough to see all three juveniles on one tree and tree guard, but the only photo I got was just as one went to fly off and sadly the photo didn't come out as focussed as I would like. Normally I would 'bin' a photo as badly blurred as this, but I'll count it as a record shot until I can get a better one ….
The wildlife pond, river and the ditches surrounding the park were all very quiet. No Mallards, no Kingfisher, no Heron, no Little Egret and no Moorhens or Coots. They will have been sheltering from the heat under the vegetation. But I saw plenty of stickleback and other small fish in the river by the Iron Bridge so the water looks to be fairly healthy.
In the cooler Cranford Woods, I found two quite distinctive feathers....
They are from a Green Woodpecker. Over the years I have come to realise that the Green Woodpeckers really prefer this corner of Cranford Woods, probably because there are a far number of decaying trees there and a healthy population of Ring-Necked Parakeets and Jackdaws. Both species like to nest in old nest holes, and this proves there are plenty to go round.
It might have been very hot, and I might have resembled a glowing wet tomato after my two hour transect (it was too hot to rush) but I find any visit to Cranford Park is successful in one or another. For a country park that is surrounded by noise and pollution, the wildlife I find there always surprises me.