Saturday, 18 June 2016

Cranford Park volunteering and hoverating

Over a year ago I blogged about the future plans for Cranford Park (please see both links below)....

Proposals for Cranford Park

blogpost from April 18th 2015

and as part of the bid being prepared by the London Borough of Hillingdon for the Heritage Lottery Fund (which despite rumours amongst some who frequent the park, has NOT yet been granted) we need to include figures on how many people are using the park. So over three days in June, including today, we were counting people, cars, bikes and even dogs coming in to the park from two locations - the car park and the Roseville Road underpass entrance. So that's how I spent five hours today with the company of Charmain from the LBH for the first three hours.

The only downside was it was a very overcast day and although I was stationed next to the hedgerow in the car park there was very little in the way of insects to keep me occupied whilst waiting for anyone to count, but it was great to have a chinwag with Charmain and learn about the process involved in bids like ours. They can take years to pass through, with several lengthy consultations and if the bid is successful and the funds granted, it must then be closely monitored for another ten years.
 Bids can only be submitted twice a year, so all in-depth preparation must be done months in advance.

Another event happening today was the annual Butterfly Walk. As stated above it was a very overcast day though and according to Dragena, who led the walk, and the 15 that accompanied her, there were only a few Meadow Browns and a couple of day moths seen. Many events at the park are organised months in advance so we can only hope for good weather, but it was good to see some new faces at the park.

After Bob relieved me of my head counting duties I went off in search of some wildlife.

The Little Owls are breeding in a new tree this year. Sue first spotted them a few weeks ago and we both saw an adult and one juvenile a couple of days later, but due to the location of the hollow it was impossible to get any photos. I checked the tree again this afternoon and briefly saw one adult at the front of the hollow, who quickly retreated when it realised I was there. But it's great news that they are back.

I saw a Kestrel several times today. It was the male and he was always flying to and from the same location, so I know roughly the area where they are nesting this year.

I also saw one distant flying Hobby and two Buzzards.

Woodpeckers were very vocal and flighty today. I saw and heard three Great Spotted and four Green.

Up at the Headland end of the park I immersed myself in a spot of hoverating and got photos of four species. The umbellifer plants they like are almost at head height now, so made for some different angled photos than I normally take...

Episyrphus balteatus - the Marmalade Fly on a dandelion

Volucella pellucens
Myrathropa florea

another angle of Myathropa florea
Melangyna compositarum / labiatarum
The bees also like these plants and there were plenty of Honeybees around today, along with a few Common Carders, White-tailed bumbles and this poor Buff-tailed bumble that appeared to have something like a tiny cigar attached to it's face.
 After much research when I got home, this 'cigar' is actually a tiny beetle, Antherophagus species. This beetle lives in bumblebee nests and it gets from nest to nest by hitching a ride. To do this it sits in a flower and when a bumblebee visits, it bites onto the bee's tongue, and doesn't let go until it has been carried back to the bee's nest.....


Many thanks to David Notton for the confirmation.
The Headland area is one of the best places in the park to see our summer resident Common Whitethroat. There were several heard and seen today and this adult was happy to sing for me in clear view....

All the rain we have had recently has meant quite a few little fungi have popped up...

I didn't stay too long as the weather conditions weren't really ideal, but at least I got to do my bit for the bid for the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The next event at Cranford Park will be the annual summer Family Open Day on July 23rd from 11am - 4.30pm. The historic Stable Block will be open, as will St Dunstans church and the Secret Garden. Entrance and all activities are free and include a mini animal farm, falconry display, medieval Knights, story telling for the kids and much more. There will also be a plant stall, cake stall, tombola and bric-a-brac. Refreshments will be available in the churchyard.
If you're really lucky you might even spot me dressed as 18th century House Maid.........

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