Sunday, 7 August 2016

Back on the patch

Today I was back at Cranford Park. After the excitement of yesterday, it was nice to have a relaxing slow stroll around the park.
We have many oak trees, both English and Sessile species, at the park and a lot are now producing acorns. I noticed that quite a few of the native English oaks have theses oddly shaped acorns.....
This is the sign that the Acorn or Knopper Gall Wasp (Andricus quercuscalicis) has visited the oak. These tiny parasitic wasps became established in the UK during the 1970s and are now widespread. Eggs are laid during early summer in the developing acorns of English Oaks. Instead of the normal cup and nut, the acorn is converted into a ridged woody structure in which the gall wasp larva develops. The gall is yellowish green and sticky but later becomes greyish brown.
For me, finding these galls is usually a sign that autumn is on its way, along with all of the developing blackberries....

Autumn might be around the corner, but it was very warm today and there were plenty of butterflies still out and about...

Green-veined White

Meadow Brown

Speckled Wood


 I also found a rather beautiful day flying moth, a Silver Y.
Moths can be just as pretty as butterflies....
There are still plenty of bees around including this little stunner, a Common Carder Bee...

Bird-wise there was still at least one juvenile Sparrowhawk calling in Cranford Woods, but although I could pinpoint what tree it was calling from I couldn't spot it amongst the leaves.
At the other end of the park, in the trees by the Cranford Lane entrance, there were more juvenile Sparrowhawks calling. It looks like we have more than one Sparrowhawk family at Cranford Park, just as we have more than one Little Owl family.
No sign of any of the Little Owls today. The youngsters will be 'teenagers' now, and the adults will have literally chased them off their territory. Little Owls sometimes have a second brood, so we may have some more juveniles soon but I would have expected to see them by now.
The juvenile Kestrels are still in the meadows. Their hunting, flying and hovering skills are still being practiced. There were at least three today, but there could have been more. We know we had four-five juveniles fledge this year. I watched one or two using the tree guards as perches from where they could look down and spot prey - which at the moment are still crickets and grasshoppers - swoop down to catch them, then fly back to their perch to eat them.....


 It's still a little hard to say which are female and which are male, as not all of the adult head feathers are through, but the one below is 100% a female with the brown barred tail being the decider....

It wont be long before they are also moved off the territory by the adults and I'll be sad to see them go, but they'll be a new family to watch next year.
For a park that is surrounded on three sides by the M4, A312 and Heathrow Airport we have had a very successful 2016 bird of prey season with first time nesting Buzzards, two Little Owl families, the Kestrels and two families of Sparrowhawks.

No comments:

Post a Comment