Shared observations VIII

From Colin and Linda – Barn Owl monitoring continues. On Wednesday 13th May the male bird came out of the nest box, dusted itself down (preened and stretched its wings) and then made nine return visits (with rodents) in 67 minutes! Friday 15th May was our 20th recording evening – and what an evening with both male and female birds hunting! The chicks must be well on their way!

From Doug. I look forward to hearing all the reports contributed each week. Highlights for me this week are that the moth trap has had moths in for the first time for many weeks. A male Bullfinch has been visiting the feeders, along with the return of the Nuthatch. Lastly after thinking that the Masonry Bee colony in the backyard had succumbed to the wet winter they are back in large numbers over the weekend.

From Michele and Phillip. Last Saturday, the day when we should have been on a Nats field visit, we had a walk to the fields off of Stocks Lane, we did plants all the way (well nearly): an extensive patch of Meadow Buttercups dotted with Dandelion seed-heads; andwe saw White Clover, Ivyleaf Speedwell and Ribworth Plantain.

The Hawthorn has come into full bloom and we spotted some galls on Rowan caused by the Eriophyes Pyr mite. And we also had a female Orange Tip butterfly.

From Adam. I am working from home at the moment: my computer is near the back-window which lets me keep an eye on what is going on in the garden – I pop out several times a day with my insect book. I’ve had quite a few Orange-Tips and Peacock butterflies (especially when it was really warm a few weeks ago) and a few different bee species. I think we have a Buff-Tailed Bumble Bee nest in our roof and I’m enjoying watching them out of my bedroom window. My insect ID skills are very basic, but I spotted a bee-fly (Bombylius major) on 14/04/20 which was feeding on a honesty plant.

I’ve been focusing on learning grasses and developing plant id skills. There’s some nice speedwells out at the moment – I’ve noted Veronica montana and Veronica serpyllifolia over the last few days. On my daily walks I have been walking in the area between the Trans-Pennine Trail and Stainborough, near to the water treatment reservoirs. [Boylins!] I didn’t realise how good a spot it is, loads of transitional scrub area between the woods and fields. I have heard a Willow Tit call on two separate occasions, on the path that runs parallel to the TPT. There’s a great field that has been full of Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine Pratensis) and Field Wood Rush (Lazula campestris) and it is now being dominated by Meadow and Bulbous Buttercups. Kestrels are regularly perched on the perimeter fence.

From Susan M. Nothing very spectacular to report but on my walk at Long Fields in Darton it was nice to see that in spite of the dreaded virus, Mother Nature is carrying on regardless. All the usual wild flowers are out and making a good show. I especially like the Hawthorns in bloom, they are spectacular, especially if there are a few together. Also worth admiring are the Horse Chestnut blossoms, wonderful. 

As well as the usual flowers, ie dandelions, buttercups and daisies my list was not bad: Jack by the Hedge (Garlic Mustard); Cow Parsley; Herb Bennet (Wood Avens); Ribwort Plantain, Red Campion, White Dead Nettle; Ramsons (Wild Garlic); a few Bluebells made a nice show along with Stitchwort and with very messy Herb Robert tangled in long grass. I had to look up Archangel to confirm, it looks a bit like nettles but with complicated yellow flowers, worth a good look I think. I also has Ground Ivy, Forget me nots and Germander Speedwell. Close inspection of the Speedwell will reveal that there are two rows of hairs down the stems, you may need your glasses!

More locked-down wildlife in Penistone from Stuart. Lynn and I today (Wednesday 13 May) have been able to take a longer walk following the amendments to the lockdown. It has also meant we can now take a flask with us and have a sit down because everyone knows Brits, especially Yorkshire Brits are fuelled by tea. We walked up to the Hartcliffe area and had a nice view, and enjoyed the song of a Whitethroat and then on the way back spotted two Golden Plover; I just wonder if these are the same pair as we saw a few weeks ago (only about 100m from our first sighting). This time they were very settled perhaps they will stay and nest? Also spotted two Brown Hares chasing each other – perhaps they thought it was March again. It was cold enough with the wind from the north!

Last week, after another walk, I was sitting in the garden and spotted a small ladybird on my chair. I took its photo as I did not recognize it. I sent the photos to Derek Whiteley at Sorby and he feels this was a Hieroglyphic Ladybird, usually found in heathy areas; it probably should not have been in our garden so I think it may have hitched a ride on my jacket from our morning walk.

I have been watching the Peregrine nest at Wakefield (on the live webcam feed) and the chicks are growing fast. There was one amusing little cameo on Tuesday morning (12 May), the male brought in a cock Blackbird and after an exchange of screeches pushed it towards the female brooding the chicks. But she screamed at him all the more. I think in Peregrine talk she was saying “what on earth is that! There are four chicks here at that is hardly big enough for one, begger off and try again!” And he did, he picked it up and flew away! Five minutes later he returned with the same bird and the female once again gave him short shrift, the poor bloke could not win. He went off again and I did not see the conclusion because I then got shouted at for not doing the washing up!

From Gill R. We have been back to Rockley (our last visit was with Barnsley Nats earlier in the year). There are lots of Heron youngsters, growing; with so many Herons will there be any fish left? No Kingfisher this time. Blackcap and Chiffchaff – and FOUR Swallows swooping over the barn to the left, my first sighting of 2020. There was also a Grey Wagtail calling high up in a tree, despite holding a bee in its beak. And then there’s the allotment … There’s lots to see there when you take your time: this morning a pair of Linnets flew and landed in my plum tree. A Blackbirds’ nest is in the back hedge where I believe there is a Goldfinch nest and another pair has a nest in the privet archway in the opposite plot. 

From Rick R. Jill H asked last time about odd nesting places for Great Tits. Here’s one from The Gower, May 20th,two years ago, with one nesting in a Chinese Dragon garden ornament. 

More recently up on the hill towards Penistone in the last couple of weeks we saw a Treecreeper, and then a Kestrel tearing up a Field Vole on a gate post.

From David Sw. Like most other folk I have spent a lot of time sorting out the garden and I have been keeping a garden record out of interest. The sheer number of wild plants on my list tells me I am quite a lazy gardener! More anon …

From Peter and Annefie. Escaping from the garden, we visited Wharncliffe Crags and Woods on Saturday and had a quiet picnic amongst the bluebells. The shapes of some of the trees are amazing and the nearby old wood pasture was a surprise. Like Catherine and Mark last time, we saw lots of Green Long-horned Moths around the oaks. Well worth a visit now that we can go further afield.

And finally how to entertain yourself during lockdown – from Graham. Go outside at dusk. When the bats come over, throw a couple of mealworms in front of them. They will deviate with remarkable agility and catch one in mid air. If you have a bat detector see if you can hear a change of note at the moment they gulp. The long spring evenings will simply fly by!

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