Saturday, 11 August 2018

Dragons and Tigers and Kings and more at Cranford Park today

There was a touch of autumn in the air this lunchtime at Cranford Park - this was reflected in todays butterfly count on the UKBMS transect - just 59 butterflies of 6 species - full list and photos later on
It has been a good year for dragonflies and darters - often when I'm walking the transect I see these flying around me but rarely do they settle long enough for me to get a photo
I was in luck several times today - they were perching all over the place - darters are not my strong point but I think these are all Common Darters

and I think the ones below are all Migrant Hawkers

but I'm happy to be corrected
Other little critters included this very well camouflaged Green Shield bug
and just two hoverfly species - the common tiny Episyrphus balteatus
and the huge Volucella inanis

The butterfly count tally was -
10 x Large Whites
3 x Small Copper
26 x Holly Blue
2 x Comma
16 x Speckled Wood
2 x Meadow Brown
Holly Blue

Speckled Wood

Speckled Wood
very tatty old Comma
 and an added bonus was a rather scruffy Jersey Tiger moth - my fourth seen at Cranford Park this season - there have been hundreds of reports of these stunning looking day flying moths all over the Greater London area this year - what the experts call an 'influx'
Section two of my transect takes me through the top end of the woods and for the last week I've heard a raptor of some sort calling - yesterday I managed to see it for long enough to identify it as a juvenile Sparrowhawk and managed to get one very poor photo before it spotted me and flew off
today I could still hear the juveniles calling but couldn't even see them let alone get a photo
These masters of hunting always seem to nest in the same area of the woods so it was nice to see them this August just as I did the last three Augusts - and it was also nice to confirm we do have some birds of prey breeding at Cranford Park after the sad conclusion that the Kestrels haven't bred this year
It was nice to see some patches of Lords and Ladies have survived to the berry stage of their season - normally these have been eaten by Wood mice or trampled by dogs

My transect route ends by the river at the stone bridge and as I was preparing to put away my clipboard a flash of blue darted past me - the Kingfisher
From following this bird in previous years I know one or two of its favourite perches and that's exactly where I found it a few minutes later - unfortunately I still had my macro lens on my camera and could only manage a record short through the foliage before the bird took off again - look carefully at the centre of the photos below - that's a Kingfisher - honestly !



Thursday, 2 August 2018

The Secret Garden butterflies at Cranford Park

I may get a little over excited in this blog post so please bear with me
Yesterday before I left Cranford Park I quickly popped in to the Secret Garden - I was chatting with Martyn when I spotted what I thought was a large pale Comma but something didn't feel right about it - I couldn't linger though and had to leave
It niggled me all evening that I had seen something a little 'different' so today I went back to the Secret Garden and spent a very pleasant three hours in there
Within minutes of me arriving the large washed out butterfly again appeared and even though it was high on the buddleia I was ready with my camera - a quick check on the back of the screen confirmed my suspicions - this wasn't a large pale Comma - this was a very tatty male Silver-washed Fritillary !!!!!!!!!! Not only was this my first ever sighting of this large butterfly but I suspect it may be a first for Cranford Park too - I'm in touch with my UKBMS mentor and will let you know when I hear from him
So be prepared for a complete overload of photos

It's not an overly rare butterfly but it is a localised one and is mainly seen only in the south  - it is the largest of our resident butterflies and has a powerful gliding flight pattern
I'm still glowing from my unexpected find
My second nice find of the day was another worn butterfly
It's a Purple Hairstreak - This is my third sighting of one in as many weeks - normally these small butterflies are only seen flying around the tops of oak trees but the three I've seen this season have all been low down on the ground (which has made trying to photograph them really difficult) - todays one also was low down in vegetation and kept disappearing under leaves so was incredibly hard to focus on

So far 2018 has been an incredible butterfly season for me with now two new 'patch ticks' and some great counts when doing my transect
The third nice surprise today was the sighting of a Jersey Tiger moth - my second sighting this season - and there wasn't just one there were two sheltering in the ivy

Sometimes the best days are the unplanned ones like today
Other butterflies seen in the Secret Garden were several Red Admirals

a couple of Small Coppers

and an incredible number of Holly Blues

I have never seen so many in one concentrated area
Other critters seen were the beautiful tiny Mint moth

and two hawker species of dragonfly

An absolutely incredible three hours spent in the walled garden and one that I will never forget

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Critters at Cranford Park

I was at Cranford Park today primarily to do the butterfly transect but it was such a nice day that I hung around afterwards to see what other critters were about
This is a species of wasp called the Ornate Tailed Digger wasp (cerceris rybyensis) - it is a fairly widespread species which kills mining bees and takes them to it's nest for the grubs to feed on

This beautiful day flying tiny moth is the Mint moth (Pyrausta aurata) - they have two flying seasons - late spring and late summer
The cooler weather meant there were lots of hoverflies around - ids under each photo

Heliophilus pendulus

Volucella pellucens - aka Great Pied Hoverfly

Volucella zonaria - aka the Hornet mimic

Eristalis sp

Syrphus sp
The butterfly count was quite good - you can tell that high season is over now as my count was only 130 butterflies of 11 species
Large White x 19
Small White x 14
Small Copper x 15
Common Blue x 12
Brown Argus x 2
Holly Blue x 6
Red Admiral x 3
Comma x 1
Speckled Wood x 17
Gatekeeper x 33
Meadow Brown x 8
Small Copper

Small Copper
Speckled Wood

Speckled Wood

Meadow Brown

Meadow Brown - underwing

Red Admiral

Red Admiral - underwing

Common Blue

Comma - a very tatty individual

Holly Blue

Holly Blue

Brown Argus
Brown Argus

Brown Argus

Brown Argus - a tatty individual
I'll be at the park again tomorrow to work out the best route for the Cranford Park Butterfly Walk that I will be leading on Saturday August 4th - meet at the Information Centre at 11am - it's looking to be a hot day so bring bottled water and a sun hat if you can make it