St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Wildwatch: 14 August 2013 – Breeding confirmation.. and a mystery footprint!

Weather: 15C to 21C A cool start to the day, but it warmed up later. Sunny intervals, light SW breeze
Observers: Amanda, Doug, Hanna, Ian, Janetta, Kaj, Kaye, Linda, Mike, Paul, Preeus, Tracy

Wow! What a huge turn-out this morning! There were twelve of us setting out from the Environment Centre – and it was good to welcome back Hanna, after a long absence. We all set off together, a large and rather noisy group. But five people peeled off and went looking more quietly for birds and butterflies. Between us, we covered a lot of the reserve.

Like last week, bird activity was very subdued, and the focus was on plants and insects. With Cliff’s absence this week, insect ID was a bit tenuous.. but we tried our best!

Great Burnet

Great Burnet

Plants:  By now the prevailing impression is of seeding grasses, but there are still plenty of things in flower.  We searched in vain for Musk Thistle but found Welted and Creeping Thistles, along with Burdock and Knapweed.  Other long-flowering stalwarts include White Dead-nettleHedge WoundwortRagwort, Ribbed Melilot, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Tansy, Red Clover, Hedge and Field Bindweeds, Yarrow, Teasel, Rosebay and Great Willow Herbs. Soapwort is still in flower along the main path.  Luckily for the butterflies so are Field Scabious, Golden Rod and quite a lot of BuddleiaWeld, Red Bartsia, Great Mullein, Bryony and Blue Sow Thistle were also noted.  Janetta provisionally identified last week’s mystery shrub as Alder Buckthorn – a new item on our list.  Continuing last week’s spring theme we found tiny immature catkins on Alder and Birch as well as Hazel.  Colouring fruits (the easiest way to tell them apart) confirm that we’ve still got both Wild Plum and Cherry Plum or

Redshank in flower, near the Sluice Bridge

Redshank in flower, near the Sluice Bridge

associated hybrids along the Osbaldwick Beck path. Just below the Sluice Bridge, right next to Tang Hall Beck, Ian found what he was sure was Redshank, although there was a little debate about the ID. What caused more debate (and a couple of small bets!) was that a couple of members of the group didn’t believe that there was a flower with the same name as a wading bird. Ian won the bet, with Janetta confirming that he was right!

Butterflies: In total, we saw 14 different species: Common Blue, Holly Blue, Small Skipper, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Speckled wood, Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White and a single Painted Lady (just the one near the Environment Centre).

Clockwise from top left: Comma, Small Skipper, Gatekeeper, Silver Y Moth, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell

Clockwise from top left: Comma, Small Skipper, Gatekeeper, Silver Y Moth, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell

That’s one more species than we saw last week; Painted Lady is the new addition. This species has been reported throughout the York area in the past week.

Peacocks and Commas, along with Speckled Wood, were the most numerous species we saw. A few of us noted that this was the biggest number of Commas we’ve seen in recent years.

Other Insects: We were struggling with IDs on some of the many insects we saw. If anyone can fill in the gaps on the photos below, that would be very helpful:

Clockwise, from top left: Probable Harlequin ladybird, Hoverfly sp. hovering, possible Tachinid fly, Spider sp., Harvestman, Greenbottle fly

Clockwise, from top left: Probable Harlequin ladybird, Hoverfly sp. hovering, possible Tachinid fly, Spider sp., Harvestman, Greenbottle fly

The probable Harlequin Ladybird was one of two on Tansy flowers in the Environment Centre Garden – where there were also a Southern Hawker and a Common Darter dragonfly. On a solitary walk round Ossie Beck, Linda saw Wood Louse.

At “Ladybird Corner” on the Tang Hall Beck Path,  Preeyus discovered he was standing on or very near a Red Ant nest.  There were also lots of Cinnabar caterpillars along the Tang Hall Beck Path. Knopper and Oak Spangle Galls are starting to form on “Hannah’s” oak tree,  and there are possible Oak Pea Galls on the tree across the path

Unidentifie fungus near the Bund Path

Unidentifie fungus near the Bund Path

Fungi: They are starting to appear, even though it’s only August!

This unidentified fungus was near the Bund Path.

And it seemed to be actually growing on the path.

 

 

Male Bullfinch near the Sluice Bridge, guarding an immature bird which was bathing in the beck

Male Bullfinch near the Sluice Bridge, guarding an immature bird which was bathing in the beck

Birds: Not many! It’s the quiet season for birds! Two people heard Blackcap alarm calls in the Osbaldwick Beck area – so they are still there. It was good to get breeding confirmation of Bullfinch, with a juvenile seen bathing in Tang Hall Beck, with a watchful male nearby. A family party of eight Long-tailed Tits was seen along the Sustrans Path, with juvenile Great Tits also in the same area. Blue Tits were calling in several parts of the Reserve.

A contact call, which could have been either Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff was heard in various places; Chiffchaff is the likeliest ID. The only finches were Greenfinches, heard calling in a few places. Wrens were heard, also, in a few locations, with a sighting along the Bund Path. Completing the modest total of 13 bird species were Wood Pigeon,

Possible hoof print by the Sluice Bridge. A Roe Deer maybe?

Possible hoof print by the Sluice Bridge. A Roe Deer maybe?

Collared Dove, Blackbird, Magpie and Carrion Crow (a possible juvenile on the Playground).

Mammals: None seen (the Grey Squirrels have disappeared again!), but, down at the Sluice Bridge, we saw what looked like a definite hoof print.. could it actually be a Roe Deer? The photo doesn’t show it as plainly as a few of us actually saw it, but it’s something we’ll be watching out for in the coming weeks!

And finally..

You never know what’s going to turn up at St Nick. There were five of us standing on the Sluice Bridge, looking out for, well, anything. And then, this THING blew across the bridge.. an inflatable hand!! Yes, St Nicks can always surprise you!

An unexpected discovery on the Sluice Bridge!

An unexpected discovery on the Sluice Bridge!

15 August 2013 | Categories: Wildwatch | Tags: greenbottle, Harlequin Ladybird, harvestman, juvenile bullfinch, painted lady