Shared observations IV

This Wednesday evening would have been a Barnsley Nats meeting so it seems timely to post. And first of all an image from Alwyn of a Goldfinch on the cherry blossom trees in his Penistone garden. More from Alwyn later.

From Doug.  This is the end of our fourth week and I hope that you are all keeping well. Not very much to report this week what with the moth trap numbers low and species static. However new bees seen this week are Oranged Tailed Mining Bee and Ashy Mining Bee (Andrena species) but no Nomad bees have been seen as yet.

A friend who lives at Darton has been watching a pair of Tree Sparrows using a nest box in his neighbour’s garden. Dennis Giggal has told us that he has a resident hedgehog in his garden off Park Road. Jill has been recording butterflies with Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock seen.

From Catherine.  Thanks to all of you who are compiling and sending out the sighting updates. It is really interesting and heartening to read it all. All well here. Especially seeing all the wildlife in the garden and on our exercise walk. It’s so extraordinary, especially in the evening, to sit out and all you can hear is the birds… The Dearne delivered again Easter weekend with sightings of two grass snakes! One was swimming in the river and the other much further upstream was in the riverside brash… I doubt we’d have ever seen them if we hadn’t been forced to stay close to home.

We’ve now had Tawny Mining Bee; and Red Mason Bees – the ones that love the bee hotels – are quite numerous now as well.  And finally the hoverflies are out. You’ve probably seen all the drone flies that are about. Invariably hovering in sunny spots… we’ve never seen as many… but slowly other species are joining them too. I think four species in the garden now. Plus a bee fly and the Honeysuckle Sawfly have put in an appearance. And it’s a grand year for butterflies isn’t it? We’ve had an Orange Tip in the garden every day for a while now.

From Gill R.  In our garden on Easter Saturdaythere was a Brimstone butterfly; only the second time I have seen one. And then when we were sitting having a spot of lunch on Easter Sunday – wham! – a female Sparrowhawk had hit the window. She rested catching her breath in the now dead hawthorn tree across the breadth of the back garden and was empty taloned! and it looks like the cock pheasant is exceeding the government’s guidelines for exercising because it is still shadowing the females. It is easily identifiable because much of its tail feathers have disappeared and last week one was sticking up like a rudder, but no longer! It was a very amusing sight and much needed in these grim times.

From Stuart: With the end of this first three weeks of the UK lockdown, we are now starting another three weeks and the daily routine is now starting to become ominously normal. More of my observations from our single daily exercise walks around Penistone: one really nice sight of this past week was a pair of Golden Plover (in a field near Hartcliff tower for those who know the area). Also my first record of the year of a Willow Warbler which are now increasing in numbers by the day.

Back at home, in my garden, I was moving some plant pots around and came across some woodlice. Yes, I know that is not at all unusual. But some of them were different so I took one to my microscope to have a closer look. It turned out to be Porcellio spinicornis (I don’t think it has a common name).

And, it should not be in Penistone at all but somewhere in limestone country. But, I suppose as far as it is concerned the lime mortar in and around our old house is near enough and I am only a stone’s throw from the old Woodhead railway line which would have had tons of limestone ballast around. Nature always seems to find a way.

Another ‘mini-beast’ from Alwyn. Alwyn also tells us that, when having a beer in his garden hoping to see an Orange-Tip butterfly, he spotted instead a very large (hungry?) caterpillar on garlic-mustard.

Following research, he identified it as an Angle Shades moth caterpillar. The Angle Shades moth is an unusual moth that rests with the wings folded longitudinally, looking very much like a withered autumn leaf. So we look forward to a photograph later in the year.

A comment from Stuart.  I am sure many reading this will have numerous wildlife and associated books and this time has given us all the perfect excuse to look at the bookshelf and find the books you have long since forgotten about.  I found such a book lurking in a dark corner; it was given to me many years ago by an old uncle when I was just a lad. It is called Birdlife Throughout The Year, it was written by John H Salter before the first world war. It is fascinating to read his observations at a time when industrial pollutions were still increasing but before the impact of more modern mechanised farming. Here is one quote which makes you think:
…..The brook is transformed into an inky drain, foul with the smell of bleach-works, but the Whitethroat and Sedge-Warbler still nest amongst the briars and brambles which overhang it. The field pond in the hollow becomes the rubbish tip to neighbouring back yards, but, as long as it has its fringe of willow and a few tufts of sedge and rushes the Reed Bunting still makes its home. Upon the first occasion when we listened to the note of the Quail, its voice came from a patch of rye grass not two miles distant from Manchester City Hall. No farther from the same centre, but in the other direction, the Cuckoo paid visits, to suburban villadom and, sitting with open window on quiet nights, one might even hear a distant Corncrake…

A question from Alwyn: Here are sparrows feeding on the cherry blossom petals in his garden. How common is this? 

3 thoughts on “Shared observations IV”

  1. Doug also asks if we have noticed any impact on the behaviour of urban wildlife as a result of some urban areas being almost deserted and roads being less busy. We hear this week about a Roe Deer being spotted near DFS in Sheffield and a Badger at Sheffield station! Anything more local to us? In addition perhaps with less food being discarded in these areas, scavengers may become more daring in their search for food and some may need to go further afield. Any drop in the numbers of town centre pigeons for example? Have the peregrines returned? Any observations /comments would be of interest.

    1. Urban wildlife. Doug asked last time if there has been any changes in where we see wildlife and the pigeons in the town centre –and a councillor visiting the Town Hall has asked online where all the pigeons had gone! There are plenty near the sorting office just outside the town centre though.

  2. A question from Peter. Have others seen Wrens on feeders and fatballs in the garden? Our resident Wren has been much more visible in these last few weeks, feeding on the grass lawn in the sunlight and also using the feeder. We have not seen this before.

    Our neighbours along the street have been very busy chopping back their overgrown Leylandii, revealing a Magpie nest. Surprisingly, they still seem to be using it!

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