St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Derwenthorpe Wildwatch: July 2017

Wednesday afternoons throughout July were generally overcast yet it was still very warm with temperatures around 20 degrees most weeks, though the 26th was slightly cooler at 17 degrees. Still, we had a very successful month and came across lots of exciting species.


Canada Geese and Goslings

Around the pond this month, we were not disappointed by our regulars who appeared each week including both Canada Geese and Coots with their young, Mallards, Moorhens and House Sparrows. We also saw the House Martins each week and Swallows were recorded on 3 out of 4 of our walks. Black headed gulls were seen regularly either in the pond or flying overhead and we spotted a Herring gull overhead on the 26th. We were very pleased the see the Pied Wagtail again on the 5th near the smaller pond, once again wagging its tail feathers in that signature way that gives the bird its very fitting name.

Resident species such as Wood Pigeon, Wren, Robin, Dunnock and Bullfinch were seen each week in their usual places.

We spotted a Blackcap several times on the cycle path throughout July and on the 12th we got a glimpse of one in the hedgerow at the back of the hay meadow. The 26th was the only week a Blackcap was not spotted but we are fairly confident that we did hear one chirping on the cycle path even if it was a bit too shy to come out.

Pied Wagtail

Also along the cycle path, we saw a Chiffchaff on both the 5th and the 19th and on the 5th we could hear the White Throat singing but did not manage to spot it amongst the hedgerows. White Throats are a UK summer visitor but have proven rather elusive so it is always a pleasure to hear one singing (and it is even better when we see one!)

Great Tits and Blue Tits were seen were seen each week, frequently at the hay meadow but we only saw a Coal Tit once on the 12th and only one Long-tailed Tit on the 26th.

Though still not seen frequently, we were lucky enough to spot Tree Sparrows again on the 12th in the same Elder tree as our other two sightings.



Flowering Rush

The Buddleia along the cycle path put on a wonderful display throughout July with its brilliant purple flower heads attracting many a pollinator. Rosebay Willow-herb was also in flower and there was plenty of it lining the cycle path with Greater Willow-herb flowering too in early July. We also spotted Nipplewort, Tufted Vetch, Bird’s-Foot Trefoil, Hedge Woundwort, Creeping Cinquefoil, and Common Knapweed as we wandered down the cycle path and towards the end of the month, we found some newly flowering White Dead Nettle. The Dog Rose also came into flower and the white flowers along with the bright red rose hips were a rather lovely sight. On the 5th we identified St John’s Wort growing in sparse patches along the cycle path but there were masses of it in the fences off area next to the wetland meadow.

The hay meadow was a spectacle throughout the month; dense with Common Knapweed, Spear Thistles and Common Sou Thistle attracting many different


invertebrates. Amongst the carpet of these species we also found some Chickweed, Chamomile, Shepherds Purse, Ragwort, Bird’s-Foot Trefoil, Horsetail and that dreaded Himalayan Balsam! On the rather fine Oak tree near the hay meadow we spied an impressive Turkey Tail fungus specimen.


Within the hedgerows around the site the Lords and Ladies were a lovely display of greens and reds and we even stumbled across a few near the play area.

The pond was looking fantastic throughout July as we saw the last of the Flag Iris and Silverweed but along came both the Rosebay Willow-herb and the Greater Willow-herb and there are many Flowering rushes around Jubilee pond. The Meadowsweet was also in flower around the pond and on the banks of the beck- hopefully providing some food for inverterates and for Water Voles.



Speckled Wood butterfly

We saw many Speckled Wood butterflies throughout July, of the butterfly species these were definitely the most commonly seen throughout the month. However, we did also see Red Admirals (not the Red Admirable as stated in the previous blog!), Ringlets, Large and Small Whites, Green Veined Whites, Large and Small Skippers and Commas on site too. On the 12th we got our only sighting of a Holly Blue and the first Gatekeeper was seen on the 19th.

We also recorded several day flying moths including the Mint Moth, Grass moth and a Carpet Moth species along with several others that we were unable to identify but hopefully we’ll have a few more identified for next month.

Comma butterfly

Comma butterfly

We spotted a variety of Hoverflies throughout July including the Marmalade Hoverfly, Scaeva pyrastri or the Pied Hoverfly, Helophilus pendulus, lovingly referred to as the ‘Footballer’ due to its stripy thorax, Syrphus ribesii, Eristalis pertinax and Scaeva pyrastri. We also spotted a Sawfly on several afternoons that we have identified as a Tenthredo mesomelas.

The usual bumblebees were spotted throughout July including Buff-tailed, Red-tailed, Garden, Common Cader, and Tree bumblebees. Honey bees were recorded each week and on the 12th we found a Mason bee seeming very pleased on a lovely patch of lavender.  There was an Ichneumon wasp spotted on the 12th but we were unable to identify which species of Ichneumon wasp it was.

Throughout July, the pond was rife with damselfly and dragonfly activity. The most common species was the Azure damselfly and on the 19th we watched as a House Sparrow gave chase to one across the pond! We also saw Common Blue, Blue tailed and Large Red damselflies and Common Darter dragonflies. On the 19th the group were fairly confident that we’d spotted a very majestic Emperor dragonfly as it flew through the Flowering rushes. Emperor dragonflies are Britain’s bulkiest dragonflies but they very rarly remain still so can easily be missed despite their size.

Also around the pond we spotted a few different spider species including Nursery Web, Garden, Orb Web and Wolf spiders.

On the 5th we began to see a lot of Ladybird larvae and subsequently a lot of Ladybird pupae, most likely Harlequins (also present each week in their adult form). We also saw both 7-Spot and 22-Spot Ladybirds over the course of the month. Other beetles included Cardinal beetles both red and black headed, Rove Beetles, Violet Ground Beetles and on the 19th we saw a Weevil which we (tentatively) identified as a Liophloeus tessulatus.

Clockwise from top left: Harlequin Ladybird larvae, Harlequin Ladybird Pupae, Harlequin Ladybirds mating, Adult Harlequin  Ladybird

When we visited the hay meadow on the 12th we were greeted by a chorus of grasshoppers though it took us some time to actually spot one. The brown colour suggests it was a Field Grasshopper.

There were also a lot of bugs to see this month. Parent shield bugs have become much more common along the cycle path. We also spotted Hedge Woundwort shield bugs, plant bug species Leptopterna dolabrata and Grypocoris stysi or Mirid bugs and Frog Hoppers.

Clockwise from top left: Carpet moth species, Leptopterna dolabrata, Grypocoris stysi, Sawfly (Tenthredo mesomelas)


Pond dipping

On the 26th July the Derwenthorpe Nature Explorers did a pond dipping session at Jubilee pond. There were a lot of interesting discoveries within the waters as we found Water Boatman, Fresh Water Shrimp, Damselfly larvae, Midge larvae, bivalves, Leeches, Pond Skaters, Sticklebacks, Case Caddisfly larvae, Water Hog-lice, a water spider, pond snails, and a Creeping Water Bug. The Nature Explorers will be pond dipping again on Wednesday 30th August to see what can be found in the second pond. Please come along if you would like to join in!


Other species seen in July included a couple of frogs, one seen on the 5th on the cycle path and one seen on the 12th in the hay meadow. Also on the 12th we spotted a rabbit, just outside the Super Sustainable Centre.


If you would like to help with identifying and recording the different species that live in the beautiful, natural spaces that make up Derwenthorpe, please feel free to join us on a Wednesday afternoon, 2pm-5pm. Meet at 2pm at the Super Sustainable Centre or call 07542070466 to find out where the group are if you would like to meet later.

For more information, email or call 01904 411 821.


The Derwenthorpe Wildwatch project is funded and supported by Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust.



29 August 2017 | Categories: Derwenthorpe Wildwatch | Tags: Birds foot trefoil, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Chiffchaff, Comma, common darter, dog rose, emperor dragonfly, Grasshopper, great tit, Hedge Woundwort, House Sparrow, Knapweed, lords and ladies, Marmalade Hoverfly, nipplewort, Parent Shield Bug, pied wagtail, Speckled Wood, tree sparrow, Whitethroat