The Great Spotted Woodpecker nest is getting noisier as the chicks get larger. I set up my mobile hide, secreted myself within and took a couple of photos of the adults coming in with food. I see the female has a ring on and is almost certainly the bird that was ringed here in February:
I am going to try again in the hide in a few days time – I am after a shot of the babies looking out of the hole as they impatiently await their parents’ return but they need to be a bit bigger for this.
Wandering around the sunny regeneration area of the wood, we were surprised to see several dragonflies basking because we always think of them being associated with freshwater rather than here in dry woodland. I suppose that the water element is all about reproduction and that they can go anywhere to feed.
Back in the meadows, the Bushnell trail camera, costing three times the amount of the Crenovas that we normally use, has, on the whole, failed to impress. However, it did excel itself recently with some lovely photos of this Fox:
When Foxes are out and about during the day, they almost always have an attendant Magpie accompanying them, scolding their every step:
This is another lovely Fox photo but taken on a Crenova:
The mother Badger has started bringing her babies to the peanuts. On this particular night, I had also put out some surplus meat in a tray:
Here is a screen shot from a video of the twins having a rough and tumble together:
This bit of hedgerow has got lots of webs in it:
These are the nurseries of the Bird-Cherry Ermine Moth. The caterpillars were contained within the webs:
This is all quite laid back by Bird-Cherry Ermine standards. Here is a photo from the internet showing what it can get like:
Continuing on the subject of moths, last autumn we spotted a Vapourer Moth nest in the bark of a Holm Oak:
These eggs remained unchanged throughout the winter but are now starting to hatch:
A notable thing about female Vapourers is that they are flightless. Therefore, because the females are either in the stage of egg, pupa, caterpillar or flightless adult stage, they will never move very far from this Holm Oak, attracting males in to them by pheromones. This would be a great thing to try to see if we keep watching this tree.
The caterpillars are still in their first instar stage at the moment. They get pretty wacky in subsequent instars and I hope to get some photos of this too.
For the first time this year, I am running a moth trap and properly recording and reporting my catches rather than using them as a training exercise for myself. This is one of my favourite little moths, the Spectacle who tries to create the illusion that it is much larger and scarier than it in fact is:
There is a new day-flying moth in the meadows now, the Burnet Companion, so named because it often flies with Burnet Moths (although these are yet to appear this year)
Small Blue Butterflies are flying in some numbers this year and across a larger area than we have ever seen before. I would like to think that this is due to us collecting the seed and growing on of lots of Kidney Vetch, the larval food plant. There is an abundance of it this year in the meadows and I have lots of small plants still in the greenhouse to be planted out in the autumn for next year (it is a short-lived perennial). Here is a Small Blue Butterfly laying her egg in the flower of the Kidney Vetch.
She only lays one egg per flower. This egg hatches and the single caterpillar lives in the flower during the summer and then pupates into the ground below over winter. I will be inspecting Kidney Vetch flowers and hoping to find Small Blue caterpillars as the summer progresses.
Still on the subject of eggs, these pale green eggs have appeared on some Yellow Flag Iris down at the wild pond:
We have no idea what these are and will keep an eye on them to see what happens next.
Late last summer, we cut the grass really, really low in one small area, raked it a bit to break the soil up and planted some Yellow Rattle seed. Yellow Rattle has super-hero status in flower meadows. It is parasitic on grass and so has the effect of knocking back the over-dominant grass, allowing meadow flowers to flourish. Having almost forgotten that we had even done that, we were very pleased to now see large amounts of Yellow Rattle growing in the area:
Our plan is to cut this area of the meadow towards the end of the summer and lay the green hay for a while over another area where the grass is growing lushly, hoping that Yellow Rattle seeds will fall out of the hay into the new section – more Yellow Rattle seed for free.
Another plant that has just come into flower is the Hoary Plantain (Plantago media), a chalk specialist. This is one of our favourite plant in the meadows and reminds us of sparklers.
Two final photos. The first one is of a green Viviparous Lizard – have never seen a green one before and here it is along with a more normal brown one. It has shed its tail at some point in the past (self-amputation) which is self defence adaptation to try to distract a predator. It can grow another one but, as you can see from the photo, it is not the same as before! The second tail is cartilage rather than bone and cannot be shed a second time.
And, finally, the Grey Partridge pair. Sadly not quite in focus, but a lovely photo of them, nonetheless: