The Messenger - Serving Gislingham, Mellis and the Thornhams

Nature Notes - August

Date: 7 September 2019

First up,
Gary Avis spotted a hedgehog rummaging around in a hedgerow one evening at the
bottom of his garden. Gary’s sighting comes after Marion and Glyn found one in their
Gislingham garden a couple of weeks ago. It’s always good to see a hedgehog,
especially as their numbers in the UK have been declining. Find out more about
hedgehogs at www.hedgehogstreet.org. Secondly, Mike Heath has sent in a delightful
photo of a juvenile Spotted Flycatcher being fed by one of its parents. In past years
we’ve been lucky enough to have Spotted Flycatchers nesting near our garden and
have marvelled at their aerial acrobatics in their quest for airborne insects. This
year, however, they haven’t appeared so Mike’s well-timed photo serves to remind
me what we’re missing!

One kind of butterfly that I hadn’t seen for a few years was the Wall Brown so when I heard that SWT Carlton Marshes is something of a hot-spot for them I sent off in hope! One species that is very apparent at the reserve at present is the Large Mechanical Digger! Work started on a major development of the site last April and is set to continue until next Spring. The work is to create new wetland habitats, a new visitor’s centre and new paths to key viewpoints. Happily, the on-going work does not appear to have disrupted the wildlife and I saw many kinds of butterflies including scores of Painted Ladies. These were all in pristine condition that indicates that these are the offspring of the migrant parents that we saw a couple of months ago that were characterised by their pale colouring and rather tatty appearance. During my visit, I also saw six Wall Browns, that I think were males either flying about looking for females or else resting with their wings closed. I did find one with its wings open but I think that the pattern of the underwing is very beautiful and so that’s the photo I’ve included here. There were also plenty of dragonflies zooming around and I found one resting that I was able to photograph. This, I later discovered, was a Black Tailed Skimmer, which although fairly common, was a first for me!
I also re-visited Bradfield Woods in August, my target butterflies being White Admiral, Purple Hairstreak and Purple Emperor. The most notable thing, however, was how many Silver Washed Fritillaries there were – dozens of them. Whilst I did see a White Admiral and a couple of Purple Hairstreaks flying high up around an oak tree, I wasn’t able to get any photographs of them and the Purple Emperor remained totally elusive! I think I shall take Tony Clarke’s advice and get down to Theberton Wood where there have been recent sightings. Anyway, my number of butterfly species seen so far this year now stands at 23, which is 4 up on last year. Correction: the butterfly described as a Brown Argus in last month’s Messenger was in fact a female Common Blue – thanks to Ray Aldridge for getting in touch. Speaking of lists, Tony’s latest is included on our website as usual and this month includes Silver Washed Fritillary butterflies in Gislingham (!) as well as Skylarks, Whitethroat and Blackcaps. Finally, there’s just space to mention that we have seen baby newts in our pond! Happy Wildlife Watching!
Tony Clarke’s List for July 1st Footpath , fields from Thornham road over railway line ; 2x green woodpeckers , 2+ blackcaps , 2+ chaff chaffs , whitethroat and stock dove . 4th Fields between Coldham lane and high street ; Buzzard , 2x skylark , 2x linnet , yellowhammer in song , 12x swift , sparrowhawk . 15th Footpaths and fields between Mill street and Back lane ; 2x turtle doves , male bullfinch , little egret over , grey heron over , 6x grey partridge , little owl , sparrowhawk , whitethroat with young , 2x Stock Dove , 6+ swift . 17th Footpaths and fields circular route over railway line ; Lesser whitethroat , 3x buzzard , 2x kestral , 6x red legged partridge , green woodpecker , singing stock dove , 4x skylark , 2+ yellowhammer . 18th garden ( Broadfields road ) ; Lesser whitethroat 29th garden ( Broadfields road ) 6+ swift over , song thrush feeding one young , blackbird feeding three young , juvenile sparrowhawk just beyond hedge on children's play area , house martin's nearly fledged .