Weather: overcast, warm.
Observers: Hanna, Hannah, Kaj, Linda, Kaye
Elusive birds and insects continue to present one sort of recording challenge, while the wealth of flowering plants presents another. The grass is still luxuriant and likely to remain so for a while. An experimental cutting regime has begun along the eastern boundary, but scything the meadow has been delayed to allow recovery time for insects that feed in it. In the thickets, little green fruits are swelling fast on Plum species, Brambles and Rowans, promising a good crop for birds and foragers.
Birds: We spent longer than usual sitting and waiting, but still the birds declined to show themselves. We heard Song Thrush, Collared Dove and Chiffchaff without seeing them, and heard more Wrens than we saw. A few Swifts high over Tang Hall Beck are likely to be leaving any day now (to find out where they go, visit the British Trust for Ornithology website). Carrion Crows were also seen flying over. Magpies and Blackbirds – and of course Wood Pigeons – were easiest to find, but we had a few more views of single Greenfinches than usual. Things improved once we got to Osbaldwick Beck, where Blackcap, Great Tit and Blue Tit were added to the list, together with the day’s highlight – a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker, easily identified by its full red cap. A lone bird in full juvenile plumage doesn’t constitute breeding evidence for St Nicks, and it’s more likely to be exploring away from its birthplace. We haven’t had regular sightings of GS Woodpeckers since winter 2010-11, so we’re hoping it might spot a vacant territory and adopt us. Glimpses of Bullfinches and a Dunnock brought the list to 16.
Invertebrates: among quite large numbers of very active brown butterflies, Ringlets were the only ones to stay still long enough to be identified. One White species was seen at a distance, and a Burnet Moth flew past at speed.
There are still plenty of snails about if ever we get round to identifying them.
Amphibians: Common Newts can still be seen in the pond, though today there seemed to be fewer large ones.
Plants: Working as a single group, we only recorded 46 species. However we added two to our list: Wild Carrot, recognisable by its dark central flower and the frill of long green bracts behind the flower head; and Meadowsweet near Osbaldwick Beck.
The Poppies and Campions at the Melrosegate entrance are still putting on an attractive show, as is the Lady’s Bedstraw and variety of Vetches near the meadow. Along the meadow path, some of our impressive stands of Tansy are coming into full flower. Along with other high summer plants such as Yarrow, Teasel, Scabious and Knapweed, it will flower well into autumn providing an essential source of food for bees and butterflies. Back in the Centre garden, the Water-Lilies are well worth a visit.