Weather: Sunny intervals at first. Heavy rain later
Observers: Dianna, Hanna, Ian, Janetta, Kaj, Kaye, Linda, Lindsay, Sam 1, Sam 2
With there being so many of us this morning, we split into two groups, with Kaye and Kaj going round with the two Sams (on a work experience week), and the others covering the bund path and the rest of the Eastern side of the reserve. Heavy rain forced us all back to the Environment Centre earlier than usual, but not before enjoying some warm intervals, which brought butterflies – including many Ringlets – out in the sunny areas.
Tang Hall Beck was still in flood after the heavy recent rains, but the level had dropped recently. Everything is looking very green and, in places, quite overgrown.
Birds: There’s an increasing number of juvenile birds on the reserve and today we saw juvenile Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Moorhen (two chicks on Osbaldwick Beck) and Blue & Great Tits. Two Song Thrushes were singing near the Dragon Stones, and at least two Blackcaps were heard, with a male seen flying over Tang Hall Beck. Wrens were not as plentiful as in
previous weeks, with only two heard in song.
Other birds still singing were Chiffchaff (two), Bullfinch, Dunnock and Greenfinch. We saw several species in flight – Carrion Crow, Herring Gull and Swift (six). Goldfinch and House Sparrow completed our total of 20 species seen this morning.
Plants & Flowers: The latest additions to the year list are Black Knapweed and Mullein along the Tang Hall Beck path, Field Scabious along the butterfly walk, and Lady’s Bedstraw on the edge of the meadow. Hedge Bindweed, Rosebay Willow Herb, Indian Balsam and Common Ragwort, reported earlier, are by now much easier to find in flower though nowhere near their peak yet. All four present a challenge to the Rangers to control, though the Balsam, as a very invasive non-native species, is the only one they would actually like to eradicate. Ragwort is a threat where animals might graze, but in the context of an urban nature reserve is valuable as the food plant of the Cinnabar moth.
It’s the ideal time of year to compare thistles and some of their less prickly relations. Spear Thistle makes a substantial plant with large flower heads and spear-pointed leaves. Welted Thistle has spiny wings along its stems. Creeping Thistle has clusters of less vivid flowers on spineless stems, while Musk Thistle flowers are usually one to a stem with drooping heads. Closely related Knapweed has thistle-like flowers but isn’t prickly. Lesser Burdock has much broader leaves, and limits its serious prickles to the little hooks covering the lower part of the flower head.
As a foretaste of things to come, Tansy and Teasel are in bud ready for late summer to autumn flowering.
Butterflies & Other Invertebrates: The brief warmth and sun today brought out a host of Ringlet butterflies – possibly 40 or more throughout the reserve. Other butterflies recorded today were single Comma (which
alighted on Ian’s warm pipe!), Small White, Meadow Brown and Speckled Wood.
Other invertebrates casually noted were a couple of Seven-spot Ladybirds and an unidentified Spider sp. (ID would be appreciated if anyone can do this from the photo).
Mammals: Just a single Grey Squirrel and a couple of Rabbits.
Amphibians: The Common (Smooth) Newts are still being seen in the Environment Centre Pond, with at least one male and three females seen today.