Saturday, 29 June 2013

Good news and bad news from Cranford Park

The bad news is we found a dead male adult Kestrel today. There's no knowing if it is one of the Cranford Park birds. It was found by the orchard area, which is very near to the M4 motorway. The bird had no physical damage that we could see. After calling a couple of experts in the area, it was decided not to send the bird off for a post-mortem. Reasons stated included that the location meant this was probably a victim of a car strike, and that there were no other dead birds around, so poison would have been unlikely. During my seven hour visit today I saw three more adult birds at various locations around the park. I also scanned the undergrowth beneath the woodland nest tree, and found no more dead birds, meaning hopefully any youngsters are still in the nest. I'm guessing that fledge time is near, probably within the week. I'm estimating this from some kestrel web cams that I've been following, however one cam in Dorset shows a kestrel still sitting on eggs, so my guesses could be well out. Only time will tell.
The good news is that a Little Owl has been seen. A lot of dog walkers know me by sight, and are always happy to tell me what they've seen at the park. Two today, told me they had seen at least one Little Owl within the last week. I scanned the area where they had seen it with no luck. I had just about given up, when I thought I'd give last years location a quick look, and I was in luck. There was a commotion high up, and out flew a Little Owl with several small birds mobbing it. It all happened too quickly for me to get any photos, but at least I know the rough area to look now. Hopefully next week I'll manage a really early morning at CP, and hopefully get some photos of the little lovely.
Elsewhere around the park there are lots of young juvenile birds. Some are already learning how to fend for themselves. I watched a large family group of Long-tailed tits practising their acrobatic ways of feeding. The Common Whitethroat juveniles are also collecting their own food now. However some youngsters are very recently fledged and still relying on the parents for food, despite leaving the nest. I found this very young Song Thrush on the floor, and retreated to see if the parents came down, and they did.
For anyone visiting the park, or any other parks, if you do see a young bird on the floor, please don't pick it up unless it really is in imminent danger from dogs. If you have to pick it up, please place it in a shrub or hedgerow nearby and leave. The parent birds will be around.  
Common Whitethroat juvenile
In the long grasses in the middle of the park I could hear several Skylarks. They were flying up high singing away, then gently 'parachuting' back down again. Once they were in the long grass, they were hidden. They are lots of 'paths' been cut through the long grasses, I just wish there were signs up asking people to stick to them. Several kids and dogs were running through the long grass, I hope no nests were trampled on. On one of the grass 'paths' I flushed a Skylark and just about managed to get a photo of its 'behind'. The bird turned and I could make out it was carrying food. Another photo I managed to grab was a Skylark silhouette, with a plane silhouette in the same frame.
I also saw a large flock of Linnets today. They are so hard to get close to, but I managed to get a shot of a male sitting in one of the shrubs.
The sun really came out in the afternoon, and enticed all the insects out.
I'm not exactly sure what this is. The nearest I can find in my books is a type of musk beetle, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. It was quite large, about 400mm.
Cinnabar moth
There were lots of butterflies around. Some looked really fresh, others looked really scruffy.
Scruffy Comma
Small Copper - way past its sell-by date
Small Copper with very tatty wings
Small Skipper (male)
Small Skipper (male)
Speckled Wood
Speckled Wood, starting to look a bit tatty.
Small Tortoiseshell under wing
Small Tortoiseshell
and last but by no means least, a nice gathering of Peacock butterfly caterpillars.

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