From Alwyn. ‘This hoverfly (Eupeodes luniger) is doing what they do best – hover!’ Alwyn is spending his time at home and in his small garden and is thankful that we have been having an exceptionally sunny springtime. He has been busy recording any wildlife and mini-beasts found there at this time. “I’ve counted about 16 different species of Hoverfly in the last few days in my garden, including the Heineken Hoverfly, with its long beak – so called because ‘it reaches parts other ones can’t reach’; some are as small as 4-5mm.”
From Doug. Hello All. Hope you are all keeping safe and well after the fifth weekend of the lockdown. It has been very quiet on the moth front in Silkstone Common this week and quite quiet for Kent as well with his moth trap at Ardsley. We both think that it is due to the cold nights.
On Friday I had my daily exercise with a walk in Hall Royd Wood which had a good display of spring flowers which include Wood Anemone, Common Dog Violet, Lesser Celandine, Greater Stitchwort, Bluebell and my favourite Yellow Archangel. There were chiffchaffs singing as I approached the TPT. On Saturday repeating the same walk I heard Curlew calling. The highlight of the week was a large Red Damselfly in the backyard. Cheers, Doug.
From Kent. A couple of nights ago I trapped a Lime Hawke Moth in my garden here in Ardsley.
From Ron and Joyce: We have managed to tick most of the summer migrants off on our daily lockdown walk. From our garden in Doncaster Rd we have had three displaying Buzzards, one Sparrowhawk and one ‘fly-over’ Osprey.
From Geoff. All three of us at home watch out for birds and butterflies in the garden. I have been out and about and I’ve recorded lots of spring plants and several butterflies not seen in the garden. Migrant birds have not been numerous at Worsbrough Reservoir. I’ve only seen Swallows over the water on one date. A single Common Sandpiper was present on the spillway a week ago but my most entertaining sight was a female Mallard with a family of 11 ducklings swimming around the spillway pond.
From Michele and Phillip. Not much different to report in this urban area. Three honesty plants in flower, sparrows plentiful, one oxeyed daisy. And the trees on Shaw Lane are starting to show leaf. In the garden we’ve had two Blue Tits (visit every day and come very close to the window), a Robin, a very vocal Blackbird, hoverflies, and bees white tailed and red tailed. Phil’s seen four newts at Cortonwood.
From Arthur and Pat. We had an interesting time this afternoon (St George’s Day!) sitting in the sun in our front garden and watching a female Red Masonry Bee (Osmia rufa) prospecting along our sunny wall, presumably looking for somewhere to lay her eggs. She kept returning to one spot, and we shall watch later to see if it fills with mud – though where she would find that I don’t know!
[‘It’s surveying for a suitable place to dig a nest. It will just be a narrow shaft in which it will lay its eggs, provision the nest with food (pollen) for the next generation and then seal it off with mud. They’ve been doing this every year as long as bricks and mortar have existed and before that in something else. They are solitary and don’t occur in large numbers so a few small holes will be of no consequence to your home, and they are important pollinators so best to let them get on with the vital work.’]
Today Pat also found a chrysalis case – intact – under some leaves in a cool shady spot. That has been provisionally identified as a hawkmoth pupa: we put it back again, as we know nothing about keeping or handling such items. Does anybody? We found a nearby spot yesterday lunchtime which was like a butterfly frenzy, and recorded seven different species within the hour or so that we watched. Orange Tips a-plenty: beautiful! Hope everybody is keeping well and active. Cheers Arthur and Pat.
From Monica. I enjoy sitting and watching the flowers, bees, butterflies and birds in my garden, and now lambs in the field behind my house. On Saturday April 25th I had a Red Admiral. At the moment the Marsh Marigolds are glorious. My tadpoles are very active in this warm weather. A couple of days ago I was sitting by my pond digging out a few unwanted plants nearby when one of the frogs appeared just in front of me and stared up at me as if he/she was very concerned I might be up to no good! Take care and stay well, Monica
From Annefie. Last Sunday, the day after St Mark’s Day, we saw the first flies named after this Saint. They hovered in the sun near an old hedgerow with their long legs dangling beneath them. Apparently they spent most of their life as larva in the soil, feeding on rotting vegetation. Their purpose in their short adult life is to mate and lay eggs and they have an important role as pollinators. Seen any on your walks perhaps?
From Stuart. The first sighting I want to report is a complete odd-ball. And, I want to say now (just to be very clear!), that I was not under the influence of alcohol or prescription medication when this observation was made!
It is Thursday morning, April 23rd, at 10:20am – I am sitting in our summer house and looking out into the sky. High in the sky I could see a bird wheeling, I just assumed it was a buzzard but people may remember that a couple of weeks ago I reported seeing a red kite catching a thermal over Tesco`s in Penistone. So this bird needed to be checked carefully just to be sure. I picked up the binoculars to get a closer look, immediately I could see it had a long neck so my first thought of a buzzard (or red kite) was quashed. It must be a lone goose, but no… it was white! So, it`s a swan…but no its neck is not long enough and its legs are sticking out beyond its tail. I supported myself on the garden fence and fine-tuned the focus wheel – it was a spoonbill! Plain as the nose on your face, a spoonbill over Penistone!
[One or two Spoonbills have now been seen in the Dearne Valley; so Stuart’s (the first sighting) was probably en route!]
During the week Lynn and I have continued with our daily exercise walk around Penistone and kept our eyes and ears open for the delights each day brings. So to continue….. The number of Willow Warblers we have heard singing has continued to rise and so has the number of Swallows we are seeing both on the wing and sat on telephone lines. Whilst sat on the wires you can hear them chatting to each other and we can only imagine what they are saying.
A bird that I do not see as often as I did 30 years ago around Penistone is the Yellowhammer but at last we saw one after hearing its distinctive call; “a little bit of bread but no cheese”. This was in the Hartcliffe area above Penistone, it was a stunning sight on top of a fence post in full sun against a clear blue sky.
We have also, just this last week, seen out first Orange Tip butterflies – a lovely sight in the spring sunshine. Back in the garden our Hedgehog is now out and about in the early hours of darkness, the first time we have seen it this year. Of course I say “our Hedgehog” but clearly have no way of proving it is the one we had all last summer. But it is nice to think it is. Best wishes to you all, Stuart & Lynn.
From Catherine and Mark: We had an unexpectedly wonderful walk on Monday. You may remember the forecast was not great but the sun came out late morning. We saw all sorts of lovely critters by the river. A Cardinal and Tortoise Beetle and a Green Nettle Weevil were among the highlights, and dozens of Green Long Horned Moths – so pretty to see and so hard to photograph their dance round the bushes… We saw 8 species of bee, 9 species of butterfly and 12 species of hoverfly. Here are images of the Green Nettle Weevil and the Hoverfly Dasysyrphus albostriatus.
We have also continued to enjoy the birds on the riverside. Lots of Blackcap but also Garden Warbler too. And a Lesser Whitethroat as well as plenty of Common Whitethroat. But the highlight was an evening walk when we saw a Great White Egret around the ponds! I guess it went for a bit of a detour one evening from Carlton Marsh! Catherine and Mark.
And here’s another photo from Alwyn of a species of Fly (Helina reversio) busy blowing bubbles, sitting on a leaf of his Apple Tree, ugly little creature, about 7- 8mm big. I hope it doesn’t put you off your food. Keep safe, fit and healthy. Alwyn.