Nature Notes #10

Nature Notes #10

Sparky’s mum was gardening today and found this little beauty chomping away through the fuchsias and correctly identified it as an Elephant Hawk Moth larva. Apparently named for it’s resemblance to an elephant’s trunk. I think it’s got a more reptilian look about it. Anyway, an impressive beast and active during this period so keep an eye open for them on willow-herb and fuchsias or when you’re tending to your herbaceous borders .

A link below for more information on the species.

Elephant Hawk Moth Larva. All images by WSM

29.08.12. Birdlog

29.08.12. Birdlog

A juvenile Red-rumped Swallow over the south-west corner of No 6 tank at 5.40 pm moved through to the west (Greg Baker). A long-expected addition to the marsh list.  Well done to Greg the finder! We’ll let him discribe his find himself

Hi Bill – shame the swallow wasn’t seen again. I last saw it heading west over the south embankment of No 4 but had great views of it over the SW corner of No 6, if only for a minute or two. GB.

4 Ruddy Shelduck, 400 Common Teal were observed feeding on the extensive flooded water on No 6 tank. 2 Turnstone, 45 Ringed Plover,1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and a single Ruff. 40+ Pied/White and 2 Yellow Wagtails, 600 mixed flock of Swallow, House Martin and smaller numbers of Sand Martin feeding over No 6 – No4 tank, 50+ Swifts moving ahead of the deluge this evening.

A juvenile Marsh Harrier on Lordship Marsh

Observers: Greg Baker, Mark Payne, Arthur Harrison, Frank Duff, WSM

28.08.12 Birdlog.

28.08.12. Birdlog

Morning Watch: 4 Ruddy Shelduck, 3 Little Ringed Plover, 18 Ringed Plover, 12 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Greenshank all on No 6 tank. Also a Peregrine and 2 Wheatears on No 5 tank.

Observer: Mike Turton

Evening Watch: 2 Hobby, one eating a large dragonfly, moved off to the west. 4 Ruddy Shelduck, 1 Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpiper and 4 Yellow Wagtail on No 6 tank, 1 Wheatear on No 5 tank and a male Marsh Harrier over No 4 tank..

Observers: Arthur Harrison, Mark Payne, WSM

4 Black-tailed Godwit on No 6 tank this evening contained a colour ringed bird (see details below for its origin). The colour ring was Green over White above the left knee and Orange over Yellow flag over the right knee.

E-mail: A juvenile Black-tailed Godwit present on 22nd August on No 6 tank was ringed as a chick (GW+OY) on 13th July 2012 near Dalvik, N Iceland a big chick 208g. It is now in NW England and is one of c110 godwit chicks colour-ringed in July. It has been an excellent breeding season for BtG’s in Iceland this summer.

Many thanks for the record and photo very useful and great to know it has made it south from Iceland ok.

Extracts from an e-mail from Peter Potts and Jenny Gill

27.08.12. Birdlog

27.08.12. Birdlog

4-6 Ruddy Shelduck on No 6 tank were present until dusk. Good numbers of both Ringed Plover and Dunlin continue to roost and feed on No 6 tank.  Male Marsh Harrier over No 4 tank where a Green Sandpiper was located on a fresh water pool.

A Sparrowhawk and 150 Swifts were noted over No 5 tank. A Wheatear and 3 Yellow Wagtail along Lordship Marsh Lane.

Observers: Paul Crawley, Frank Duff. WSM.

4-6 Ruddy Shelduck on No 6 tank, additionally two of the birds had dark heads and were of dubious origins. The weather today was wet and windy so a good look at these birds tomorrow might shed some light on their parentage?

Ruddy Shelduck/Egyptain Goose  hybrid. Bucks Bird Club. Tristan Folland

26.08.12. Birdlog

26.08.12. Birdlog

2 Ruddy Shelduck, 3 Turnstone,  200 mixed Dunlin and Ringed Plover, 2 Green Sandpiper, 62 Redshank, 1 Greenshank on No 6 tank. 10 Wheatears, 2 Swift on No 5 tank. Water Rail chick at the usual location .

Observers: Paul Crawley and Frank Duff.

Turnstone on No 6 tank. Image by WSM.

Evening Watch: 2 Ruddy Shelduck, 130 Ringed and a single juvenile Little Ringed Plover, 1 Turnstone, 95 Dunlin, Greenshank and 27 Redshank. 10 Shoveler and 150 Teal. A juvenile Marsh Harrier perched on the ground hiding behind the Michaelmas Daisy clumps. 140 Cormorants on No 6 tank. All reports from No 6 tank. 200 Curlew on No 5 tank.

Observer: Arthur Harrison, WSM.

25.08.12. Birdlog

25.08.12. Birdlog

2 Ruddy Shelduck back on No 6 tank! Also present 2 Golden Plover and a single Common Sandpiper, 3 Green Sandpiper and 2 Greenshank. Additionally, Frodsham Score had 27 Oystercatchers and an incredible 22 Raven. All the Ravens were play fighting in the air together with a juvenile female Peregrine. A young male Peregrine did not like the rough housing and left shortly after.

Observer: Paul Crawley, Frank Duff, Arthur Harrison, WSM.

Above: Raven sparring with juvenile Peregrine over Frodsham Score.

Below: Ravens part of the record flock over Frodsham Score.

Images by Paul Crawley.

During the high tide 98 Ringed Plover, 10 Dunlin, 1 Ruff, 1 Greenshank and a juvenile Turnstone.

Gulls were coming thick and fast on No 6 tank with an adult and juvenile Mediterranean Gull, 2nd cy Yellow-legged Gull, 300 Common and 645 Black-headed Gulls. Over 300 Teal with 3 Shoveler, Gadwall and 2 Great Crested Grebes were signs of migration.

Hirundines were notable with over 400 birds gathered around No 6 tank.

Observers: Frank Duff, Paul Crawley, WSM.

24.08.12. Birdlog

24.08.12. Birdlog

A juvenile Peregrine over No 6 tank, where a Little Ringed Plover, 30 Swift and a couple of Yellow Wagtail were to be found.

Observer: Paul Crawley.

Received an email today regarding the colour ringed Med gull seen on No 6 tank on 22.08.12. The adult bird bore two green rings on it’s left leg. Unfortunatley due to the distance and poor image of the photgraph the letters on it could not be read. However, the bird orginated from either Belgium, France or Germany.

Thanks to Renaud Flamant for his help with this bird.

Nature Notes # 9 (update)

Nature Notes # 9

The Orb,the Damsel, the Wolf, the Gall fly and a Hornets nest.

22.08.12. Tatton Park, Cheshire

Sparky and I had a day out to Tatton Park today which always offers something new to discover on the wildside. Over the years we have found some interesting birds and wildlife at this National Trust park, most notably Osprey and  Black-necked Grebe over and on Melchett Mere. But generally it’s the smaller lifeforms which often drawn our attention and today was no exception.

Walking through some sedge grasses alongside a stream I brushed off a spider onto my trouser leg which reignited a memory of a holiday we had  taken (pictured at bottom of page). The critter was a 4-spot Orb Spider last seen in its red livery in the Italian Alps four years ago. The spider we found today was one of several noted at the site and came in its normal sage green colour. It requires tall strong grass/sedge to support its sturdy web and is obviously capable of catching some large but delicate prey items (see image).

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens), Bollin Valley Way, May 2012.

4-spot Orb Spider (Araneus quadratus) at Tatton Park, 22.08.12..

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) caught in the web of a 4-spot Orb Spider (Araneus quadratus) at Tatton Park, 22.08.12.

4-spot Orb Spider (Red morph) at Pavilion du Mont Frety, Italian Alps, 2009.

Just to balance things out this unfortunate Wolf Spider (below) took the wrong direction over an ant hill at Tatton Park and ended up on their menu.

16.07.12. Wolf Spider preyed on by Ants, Tatton Park, Cheshire.

Hornet and nest, ‘Dead Lake’, Delamere Forest, 24.08.12.

Sparky and I took a trip to ‘Dead Lake’, Delamere Forest with the intention of finding and photographing fungi but we were sidetracked by finding an active Hornets nest with in excess of 100 hornets coming and going. Considering our first Cheshire hornet was earlier this summer we’ve done well to stumble across this hive!

The most bizarre thing about this find was discovering an active Wasps nest on the opposite side of the tree in an old woodpeckers hole. Why these two species were tolerating each other opens up more questions? We’ll have to send the notes off to ispot and see what they can come up with?

This fly I found on a Burdock flower in early August and couldn’t find out it’s I.D. So with the help of Paul Crawley who by his very name is good with the ‘Creepy Crawlies’ sent the image off to  Open University iSpot site who took some time to come back with an i.d and called it a Terellia tussilaginis (Gall Fly)!

All images by WSM.