Deer, badger, wren, frog, cockchafer and some moths. Thursday 20 May 2021
May appears to have been mistaken for April with the heavy showers, sleet, hail, thunder and lightning, but there have been some wildlife highlights between times. Many of our trees and shrubs are in full leaf and the parish has turned quite green.
Not having any choice plants that they might be tempted to eat, we were delighted to have been visited by a family of Roe Deer (with a buck, doe and a youngster) (image 1). Also on the mammal front, a young boar Badger has been a regular visitor (image 2) and Squirrels and their youngsters chase each other across the garden and up and round the trees. We often see Brown Hares about the arable fields (image 3).
Buzzards and Red Kites are frequent and I saw a Kestrel hovering over the village green yesterday. Other larger birds in the garden have included Jackdaw, Carrion Cow, Jay and Magpie along with Starlings, Wood Pigeons (image 4) and a Collared Dove. Both Song and Mistle thrushes and a Great Spotted Woodpecker have been welcome. Dunnocks and Blackbirds have been feeding young although nesting by many birds seems to have been delayed. Blue Tits are only sporadically using their nest box, perhaps waiting for the oak trees to come fully into leaf and when they will provide a feast of Winter Moth caterpillars on which to feed their fledglings. Adult Winter Moths were common in the garden in December and their small green caterpillars can now be seen hanging from trees on silk threads and ‘looping’ along grass stems (image 5). Sitting on our swing seat, we were delighted to see a Wren taking bedding into another nest box (image 6).
We have not seen a Grass Snake yet, but Slow-worms (legless lizards) are using the wildlife tins we put down for them. We have had a single Frog in the pond recently (image 7) and the earlier tadpoles have now dispersed around the pond. Palmate newts remain common. Moth populations have been suffering from cold wet nights but a highlight has been a large and very furry Puss Moth (image 8). Also a Silver-y moth, an migrant from north Africa that follows high altitude winds to reach northern Europe (image 9). Those large bumbling Cockchafer beetles, (also known as May bugs) have been appearing in the light trap (image 10). Having spent three to four years as larvae underground, they only live as (harmless) adults for about five or six weeks.