Sunday, 2 July 2017

WL Hairstreak and the new Kestrel family at Cranford Park

I was at Cranford Park on Friday evening for an hour but the Little Owls are still eluding me. I can hear them, but I just cannot see them. I was back at the park at 9am Saturday and spent another hour looking for the owls, again with no luck.
However Saturday was going to prove to be much luckier than I first anticipated.
Some of the Lords and Ladies have survived being nibbled and are finally turning in to berries....
In the meadow there are lots of ragwort and almost every single plant had these colourful critters on them. The caterpillars of the Cinnabar moth......

I didn't spend much time 'hover-ating' on Saturday but this little specimen caught my eye. It's a Sphaerophoria scripta. My second of the season.....

The butterfly transect was a good success again, even if it was partly cloudy and a little windy at times during the 1hr 45 minutes it took to walk the set route around the park.
After last weekend photographing Ringlets at Maple Lodge NR it was a very pleasant surprise to find two Ringlets at Cranford Park. I have never seen one at Cranford, so it was a real bonus to add them to my count. I also had my first Gatekeepers of the year, BUT the best sighting of all was a stunning fresh female White-letter Hairstreak, my second ever only sighting at the park.
So the total tally for Saturdays butterfly transect was 109 butterflies of 13 species....
Small Skipper x 26
Large Skipper x 2
Green-veined White x 12
Holly Blue x 2
Red Admiral x 16
Peacock x 1
Comma x 13
Speckled Wood x 6
Gatekeeper x 6 - first of the year
Meadow Brown x 21
Ringlet x 2 - first of the year
Small Heath x 1
White-letter Hairstreak x 1 - first of the year
A very very healthy count.
Gatekeeper underwing

Gatekeeper - head shot

Gatekeeper open wing - male
Speckled Wood

Speckled Woods copulating
Small Skipper

Small Skipper - male


Green-veined White - male

Ringlet - female
and the star of the day....
a very fresh female White-letter Hairstreak.......

Below is how they get their name. The white letter 'W' on the bottom underwing....

After the excitement of the Hairstreak I met up with Nathalie and John and pointed them in the right direction, where they both also eventually saw the little beauty too. Later in the day, going back past the same patch of thistles, I was a little disappointed to not re-finding it, and hopefully this will be the first of many sightings this season.
Nearly all of the umbellifers were attracting Soldier Beetles.....

and in the alley way by Roseville Road I found a female Stag Beetle wandering along. She was moving fine but does seem to have sustained some injury to her head ?

My last wildlife sighting of the day was this Fox which appeared in the Headland area.....
Nathalie had asked me during the week if the Kestrels had yet fledged. I saw one adult on Friday evening, and initially thought, compared to the last few years sightings, that it was maybe a week too early for the fledglings to be out......but I was wrong.
During the transect I heard the familiar sound of a calling juvenile and looked up to see three of them sitting in a dead tree by the river. One quick call to Nathalie and John and it wasn't long before the three of us were trying to count and establish how many juveniles we have this year. We think there are definitely four, possibly five.
There were not only frequenting the dead tree but were also using the tree guards in the meadows as viable perches. The same scenario that we get year after year at Cranford Park. They will hang around the meadows for several weeks, honing their hovering, hunting and flying skills. The best way to see them is to walk up the main grass path from the car park towards the Cranford Lane entrance, and check every tree guard and shrub. They will also use the grass paths to hunt for crickets and grasshoppers, even the odd dragonfly and butterfly.
So I will not apologise for the overload of photos. Everyone who knows me knows the Kestrel is my favourite bird of prey and I always get a thrill seeing the new juveniles at Cranford Park.


A completely successful day, in more ways than one. White-letter Hairstreak, Stag Beetle, Fox and newly fledged Kestrels. Cranford Park wildlife at it's complete best.

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