Spent a couple of hours this morning walking the Commons with a friend , to identify what management was necessary , with the guidance of LB.Bromley , to keep the encroachment of scrub back off of the heather areas , and also the glades which have been the focus of butterfly interest . About five of us , weather permitting , spend Thursdays during the winter months , scrub bashing and treating regrowth . The Council contracts out the grass cutting of the glades , and we were pleased to see that this has not yet taken place , meaning that seeds from wild flowers have a good chance of ripening and producing nectar sources for invertibrates next year .
Whilst walking around , we could hear what seemed to be a family of Bullfinches keeping in contact with their 'pew' call , but as usual we did not actually see the birds . Several Corvids were seen , and also , briefly , a Sparrowhawk , that landed on a dead Silver Birch , saw us , and shot off immediately at pace .
The sun brought out the butterflies , albeit in small numbers . Singles of Comma , Peacock , Small Copper and Common Blue , together with male and female Brimstone and 2 Speckled Woods , including the oblita form one found the other day .
We need to remember where all the Buckthorn bushes are , as this is the foodplant of the Brimstone , and we want to keep the good numbers we have on the Commons . Without leaves many young trees look very alike .
After lunch , with the sun still shining , I took myself off to the farm lake . Immediately on reaching the bank around the lake , there was an almost silence over the whole area . I say almost , because over the other side of the lake , the small flock of Goldfinches were feeding on seed heads and incessantly calling to each other at the same time . On the lake , I was pleased to see the juvenile Little Grebe briefly before it disappeared into the reeds . A quick count of the Coots ammassed just two . Obviously the male had managed to see off the remainder of his offspring , and now he and the missus , reigned supreme . The Moorhens still number four , so it doesn't look as if the youngsters are going to get the same treatment from their parents . Apart from Corvids , just two Green and one Greater Spotted Woodpeckers were recorded .Walking round , the fruits of the Guelder Rose are weighing down the branches , and are a really rich colour . Talking berries , the ones on the Dogwood were being used as a perch for this male Common Darter . A bit further round the lake , I found this male Ruddy Darter , still looking fresh . There has been some consternation on a certain blog regarding these two Darters , and I know Steve/New Hythe posted the two close together a couple of weeks ago , but am posting them again to help ID . The waisted abdomen . all black legs and no yellow markings on abdomen of adult specimens . Yellow markings can occur in immature Ruddy Darters .
Whilst talking Darters , a female Common Darter literally fell to the ground in front of me on the far side of the lake . As can be seen from the colour of the abdomen she would be classed as over mature , in fact , I think she was on her last legs , as she made no attempt to fly off . But what can be seen from the shot , is the yellow stripe down her leg , that is not on the Ruddy Darter .
The most common flying insect this afternoon was the Crane Fly-Tipula paludosa ,
or Daddy-Long-Legs as the kids know it . The larvae live live in soil and are known as 'leatherjackets' .
Butterflies were very thin on the wing , with just two species recorded . Five Common Blues including this reasonably fresh looking male specimen , which cannot be said of the single male Brown Argus found .