Saturday, 7 May 2016

The first Hobby, Large Red damselfly, Scorpion Fly and more wild flowers at Cranford Park today

At 10.30 this morning I was chatting with Phil and Martin at Martin's bench, when Phil suddenly pointed and said 'Muntjac'......and there was one walking in to the Ice House Copse. By the time I remembered I had my camera in my hand, it disappeared from view. But what a great thing for all three of us to see. I can only presume it was flushed from the other copse by dog walkers. Last week Martin saw two together, so hope is not lost.
At 11am I was at the wood circle with Gary, Yvonne, Sue, Jasper and Janey. We started a lovely hour long stroll from there and through the woods and back in to St Dunstans churchyard. We compared English and Spanish Bluebells, and found Red Campion, Greater Celandine, Lesser Celandine, White Dead Nettle, Red Dead Nettle, Herb Robert, Speedwell, Ground Ivy, Cuckoo Flower, Few-flowered Garlic and Bittercress. Three of the fungi we found were Candlesnuff, Dead Mans Fingers and Velvet Shanks. We also saw Peacock, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood and Orange Tip butterflies and got cracking views of a calling Buzzard flying low over the woods near to it's nest tree.
It was a lovely hour with great company and two very well behaved dogs.
The English Bluebells are starting to go over

Greater Celandine

which is very attractive to bees

Few-flowered Garlic - if you go in the churchyard it is full of this plant at the moment

Speedwell (top) and Bittercress (bottom)

This butterfly is on Cow Parsley, just unfurling by the River Crane

The wild plums by the underpass are just starting to fruit
 Later in the afternoon I managed to get some photos of some butterflies.....

Small Tortoiseshell

Speckled Wood

Orange Tip - male

Orange Tip - male - underwing
I spotted a couple of hoverflies. This is a Syrphus species....

and these loved up ones are Helophilus pendulus....

Nettle patches are great places to find critters. This ladybird below is a Fourteen-spot 'black on yellow'. It is tiny.....about 6mm long. There were five of them in just one small patch of nettles.

The usual Bee-flies were around as to be expected. Completely harmless and fascinating to watch.
And I found my first Scorpion Flies of the year. Again they are completely harmless and lead a complicated short life. They feed mostly on dead insects, which they frequently steal from the webs of spiders. Mating usually occurs at night. It can be a dangerous time for the male, if he is not careful the female might decide to kill him! To avoid this he presents her with a gift of a drop of saliva which, it seems, in the world of scorpion flies, is the equivalent of a bunch of roses or a box of chocolates.

This is the male - note the bulbous red end - that's his genital capsule......

This is the female - she has a tapered orange red end.....
Sue and I also spotted our first damselfly of the year. There were two of them, quite small and red, but they wouldn't settle for a photo. I did some research when I got home and the only damselflies out at the moment are Large Reds. Now all I've got to do, is find one to photograph.
During the week Angie found some feathers in the church yard. We've had them confirmed as Pheasant feathers. I have often heard Pheasants over the back of the woods by Crane Meadows, and once flushed one from the bank of the River Crane.....
photo by Angie Mayo
 Today I found another pile of feathers near the Headland. These look to be Wood Pigeon or Stock Dove feathers....
I don't know for sure what has taken both of these birds, but Fox is likely for the Pheasant and a Sparrowhawk for the Pigeon/Dove.
Last Thursday Sue visited the park and spotted the first Hobby of the season. This is great news, and a sure sign that Summer is coming. I saw one again today but couldn't get a photo so below are the ones that Sue took.

photo by Sue Giddens

photo by Sue Giddens

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