Sunday, 14 May 2017

Nice surprise at Cranford Park

The forecast today was looking good for walking the UKBMS butterfly transect and I was at the park by 9.30am refreshed and ready after yesterdays busy day at Maple Lodge NR.
First stop, as always, was at the wood circle to enjoy my coffee and take a look around.
Dandelions are pretty boring really.....or are they............?

Personally I think they're a work of art. The bright yellow flowers are the earliest flowering of the year and invaluable for early foraging insects.
The pretty flower below is Woody Nightshade. Very attractive but the berries are very poisonous. Luckily there is only a small patch of this growing, and I might remove the berries myself in the autumn......

The common Buttercup is also very attractive to little critters. These tiny brown beetles are part of the 'epuraea aestiva' family.....

The transect went very well. The 85 minute walk saw me find 23 butterflies of 6 species. But the pleasant surprise for me today was finding two Small Heath butterflies. These are on the 'GB Red List' ie: numbers are in severe decline due to over-managed habitat. We are very lucky to have a colony of these tiny pale brown butterflies at Cranford Park.
So todays transect results....
23 butterflies - 6 species
Green-veined White x 3
Orange Tip x 1
Holly Blue x 8
Red Admiral x 5
Speckled Wood x 4
Small Heath x 2
female Holly Blue

Green-veined White

Speckled Wood face view

Speckled Wood

Red Admiral

first Small Heath of the season

better photo of Small Heath
 As well as walking the weekly transect for the UKBMS, I am also taking part in their Churchyard Butterfly Survey. I only need to visit St Dunstans four times for this survey - early May, mid June, mid July and late August.
Lots of hoverflies around today but most were quite flighty, though I did manage a reasonable shot of this Myathropa florea - the Batman hoverfly and so called because of the image of the batman logo on its thorax.....

As to be expected lots more Dock Bugs were out mating in the sun....

and I managed a close up of a basking Green Shieldbug......

During the transect I found another 'first of the year' with these attractive and completely harmless Wasp Beetles.....

and by the river I found just one hoverfly larvae, compared to the 13 and 7 that were there last weekend.....

I had the wrong lens on my camera for any bird photography today but saw quite a few fledged young Long-tailed Tits. And the air was full of calling Goldcrests, Blackcaps and Whitethroats.
Blackbirds have already fledged their first brood and I saw three juvenile Robins. Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were calling near the wood circle. Two Common Buzzards were 'mewing' overhead.
But the high-light of todays visit were the Small Heath butterflies. A tribute to the varied habitat of the park.

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