We saw a slight drop in temperature as autumn took hold in October and though there were a few less invertebrates to be seen, we had some great afternoons for bird spotting and there was still plenty of flora to be seen around Derwenthorpe.
We saw a lot of the regular bird species each week throughout October including Wood Pigeons, Blackbird, Dunnocks, Robins, Carrion Crows, Great Tits, Blue Tits and House Sparrows.
In the pond, we recorded Mallards on all of our spotting walks as well as Coots, Moorhens, Canada Geese and Black Headed gulls. We also saw Herring gulls on a couple of afternoons and on the 25th, we noted the arrival of two very beautiful swans. On the 4th we also caught a glimpse of a Song Thrush in one of the hedgerows near the pond.
On the 11th we saw Swallows as we walked along the cycle path and a Greenfinch flying amongst the trees. On the 18th we also saw a pair of Goldfinches in the trees lining the cycle path and well as a female Bullfinch. We spotted Long Tailed Tits in the hay meadow and again on the cycle path and along Metcalf Lane.
Though we might not have seen as many different bird species as we may have in previous months, the numbers of those we did see was generally higher, particularly in House Sparrows, Great Tits and Blue Tits. It was impossible not to hear then singing as we strolled down the cycle path each week!
By the end of the month, there were still a number of plants still in flower. There was plenty of White Dead Nettle that could be found in large patches across the site. There were also small patches of Herb Robert, mostly near the wetland meadow and the beck. Tufted Vetch could still be found along the cycle path along with quite a few Cow Parsley plants. In the hay meadow, the Feverfew was still flowering, even at the end of the month and there were still a few sparse patches of Hedge Mustard both in the hay meadow and near the wetland meadow. Also near the wetland meadow, the Scarlet Pimpernel could still be seen with its lovely red flowers along with Chickweed, Forget-Me-Not and Black Medic.
Other plants still flowering at the end of the month included Green Alkanet, Red Clover, Common Sou Thistles, Spear Thistles and the last of the Silverweed flowers, thought these were few and far between. Mugwort and Horsetail could also be seen commonly across the site. There were a few plants that we saw still in flower at the start of the month but by the last week of October they has died back. These included Hedge Woundwort, Chamomile, St Johns Wort and Purple Loosestrife. We also came across a several fungi, the most common being Turkey Tail and Jelly Ear but we also identified what we think is a Pleated Inkcap mushroom, the cap of which starts out egg shaped, however as it develops the cap will start to convex until it is flat. Though the cap was still egg shaped, it was heavily pleated and was pale blue in colour which led us to believe it could be a Pleated Inkcap mushroom.
As the temperatures dropped in October, so did the number of individual invertebrates we saw on our walks but we still managed to record a few different species across the month. However there were a couple of exceptions to this. Though our wasp identification was not developed enough to identify the different species, there were a large number of wasps to be found, particularly in the hedgerows along Metcalf Lane where we saw them each week. There were also a large number of Garden spiders seen, especially around the pond. Banded and Garden snails were just as common as ever across the site.
However, there were far fewer bees to be seen with only two Common Carder bee sightings and a possible Honey bee sighting on the 18th. There were several Marmalade Hoverflies spotted throughout the month and a sighting of Syrphus ribesii.
Crane flies were recorded most weeks and flies like Blue and Green Bottles could still be seen. Along the hedgerow by the pond, we spotted a Hawthorne Shield bug and in the pond there were still plenty of Pond Skaters on the surface of the water. On a tree near the pond we also spotted an Earwig on the 11th. Whilst exploring the wetland meadow, we found a rather impressive Meadow Plant bug.
We also recorded a few different Ladybird species including Harlequin ladybirds and one week we saw a 22-spotted ladybird. On the 11th we recorded a mating pair of Weevils which we identified as Apion frumentarium.
As we saw less flying insects, we started to turn over logs and stones as we walked around, however we found less under these than we initially expected. This may be because the site is not very well established. We did see quite a few Rough and Shiny Woodlice. There were also quite a few Centipedes and several Millipedes including Snake Millipedes and Flat Back Millipedes.
On the 4th September, we completed a hedgerow survey, though we were only able to do several of the hedgerows by the pond before we ran out of time. We found that there were various species that made up the hedgerows, the most common of which were Hawthorn, Bramble, Blackthorn though there were also a few Hazels and what we thought be Dog Rose in the hedgerows too. We saw less invertebrates than we expected too though there were a large number of Garden spiders to be seen. We also spotted quite a few Blackbirds within the hedge and several nests.
A conclusion to the Derwenthorpe Wildwatch project
Sadly October was the final month for the Derwenthorpe Wildwatch sessions. It has been a brilliant project to be involved with and my Wednesday afternoons have not been the same since. A huge thank you goes out to the Joseph Roundtree Housing Trust for funding the project and massive thanks to over 50 volunteers who helped us to monitor and record the different species across the site over the last year- together we identified over 300 species, 14 of which are listed as priority species on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. We have also been able to improve our identification skills, host two wildlife focused events, provide management suggestions based on data gathered and raised awareness for the wildlife that lives in and around Derwenthorpe. I am very proud of what the project has achieved as I hope the volunteers who took part are too.