Sunday, 30 July 2017

Back to Cranford Park for butterflies, fungi and hoverflies

First of all apologies for the lack of blog posts over the last couple of weeks. I've been very busy. On the 15th July I led my first ever 'guided butterfly walk and talk' around Cranford Park which would have been better had the weather been nicer, and on the 22nd July it was the annual Cranford Park Fun Day.
Back on the 8th July I found some Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars in the alley way leading from Roseville Road to the subway (photos are on my blog post from the same day) On the 22nd July as Sheila and I were walking back down the alley way after the Fun Day had ended, I briefly checked the nettle patch where the caterpillars had been seen. They had all dispersed but I found two had made their way up the brick wall behind the nettle patch and had attached themselves to the underneath of a neighbours shed that is next to the wall. They were already in chrysalis form. I didn't have my camera with me that day but I was delighted to see they were still there today.......

and just a bit further along there was a caterpillar that had just started the chrysalis process, already attached to the shed by a button of silk and already in the 'J' position, which is how they start to pupate......

If you use the Roseville Road entrance it's worth checking the shed as you walk past.
You cant miss it, it's the only patch of red brick along the alley way.
I will be following the progress of these little lovelies.....
Elsewhere around the park more signs of a late summer. The heritage apple trees in the orchard are heavy with fruit. There are plenty of blackberries ripening.....
and the wild plum trees are so ripe they are already dropping to the ground...

There has been a lot of rain recently and the River Crane is possibly at the highest I've seen it for a long while......
The wet warm weather means fungi season is well under way......
The 'Dead Mans Fingers' fungi below was really sticking it's fingers up at me.......

and I found another new location for the beautiful but small 'Yellow Stagshorn'....

Todays weather was fairly warm, when the wind wasn't blowing, and cloudy with the sun often breaking through the clouds. Not ideal conditions for butterflies but almost ideal for hoverflies.
Five species today. All ids under the photos....
Myathropa florea

Volucella pellucens

Chrysotoxum bicinctum (a lifer for me)

Chrysotoxum festivum
 and the most prolific seen today were the largest British hoverfly, Volucella zonaria......

This mornings UKBMS butterfly count was a little less than I would expect at this time of year, but with the weather conditions it was still a good number.
During a 90 minute transect I had 94 butterflies of 8 species
Green-veined White x 3
Small Copper x 1
Brown Argus x 1 (first of the year)
Common Blue x 5
Red Admiral x 3
Speckled Wood x 8
Gatekeeper x 48
Meadow Brown x 25
Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Red Admiral - underwing
Speckled Wood

Speckled Wood
Common Blue - male

Common Blue - male

Common Blue - male

Common Blue - male

Small Copper
Brown Argus - male
The same Brown Argus next to a folded wing Meadow Brown for size comparison

Meadow Brown - female

Meadow Brown - male

Gatekeeper - male

Gatekeeper - female
Despite searching the meadows twice I didn't see any of the Kestrels but my friends Nathalie and John saw three last Saturday. In fact I didn't see many birds at all today. A lot of the smaller birds are now flying around in family groups and not really showing themselves. I thought I heard a Kingfisher but could not locate it. With the water levels so high there were no signs of any Mallards, Moorhens or Coots. One juvenile Grey Heron had decided to explore the Headland area but flew off before I could take a photo. But the numbers of hovers and butterflies made up for it. Hopefully next weekend I'll be seeing more of our feathered friends.

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