Author Archives: Jen

Wintering Blackcap

Female Blackcap in the tall trees the other side of the path from the shed at the Sunnyside Lane entrance to the Reserve.

A BTO factsheet on wintering Blackcaps has the following interesting information:

“A growing number of Blackcaps that breed in central Europe are coming to our shores to spend the winter instead of travelling to the Mediterranean, where they normally go. In Britain, food provided in gardens, coupled with our warming winter climate, is helping Blackcaps to survive. The reward for enduring harsher winter conditions here than in the Mediterranean is that our Blackcaps have a shorter journey back to central Europe in the spring, meaning that they can stake early claim for the best territories. Central European-breeding Blackcaps that winter with us have been found to lay more eggs and fledge more chicks than those that winter further south.”

https://www.bto.org/sites/default/files/u23/downloads/pdfs/factsheet_blaca.pdf

 

 

Dark Giant Horsefly

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I shared a bench overlooking Hay Meadow with the Dark Giant Horsefly on Monday. These flies are huge (25mm long) and apparently the heaviest flies in Europe. This one is female (her eyes don’t meet unlike the males) – not good news as she is the one that feeds on blood, though only just before she lays eggs fortunately; otherwise she feeds on nectar like the males.  Thankfully she prefers the blood of cattle and ponies – watch out White Parks!  Humans are sometimes bitten, though, and can have a severe reaction).  Dark Giant Horseflies are not that common, mainly occurring in boggy areas in the north and west of Britain, so right at home in Fairfield Reserve.  They fly in July and August.

Stoat – Track by Admiralty Wood

I saw a stoat at around 6am yesterday morning on the track by Admiralty Wood (a few metres beyond the exit from the Pony Wood path). It bounded towards me as I walked towards the canal, only becoming aware of me when quite close – distracted perhaps by the enormous rodent (at least I think that’s what it was – I was concentrating on the stoat!) it was carrying in its mouth which it dropped and had to pick up again. Once the animal sensed me, it dived off into the hedgerow – the side on view as it departed gave me a good view of its black-tipped tail.