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.
Whilst “helping” with the meadow surgery on July 2nd we spotted a sparrow hawk carrying prey along the hedge (Big Meadow and Hay Meadow), an overflying curlew and heard a song thrush at the bottom of an Aldcliffe Rd garden There were numerous meadow browns and a silver y moth
The large patches of thistles around Pony Wood were proving a magnet for insects today. There were at least four species of bumblebee feeding from them, along with numerous hoverflies and some meadow brown butterflies.
There were also good numbers of swallows feeding over Flora Field.
A stoat shot across the path in front of me adjacent to School Pond, about 5pm on 10th June.
I also saw a meadow brown or small heath (it looked a bit small for a meadow brown) on the hedgerow alongside the path in between Little Wood and the canal, Sun 14th June, about 10.30am. I’d be grateful to anyone who can confirm what it was.
A male whitethroat was singing in the northern corner of Hay Meadow this afternoon.
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.
This morning (approx 6am) two roe deer emerged from the bottom of Pony Wood, crossed the farm track and ran up through the field towards Aldcliffe. Haven’t seen deer there for months. Also 8 shelducks in West Field and a hare in Flora Field
Another very productive flush count. Despite the fields being as wet as they ever have been, the rush is hosting a large number of snipe. The total of 111, including 13 jack, is just shy of February’s excellent tally. Things started slowly with 1 in the Hay Meadow, 2 in Upper Sowerholme and 5 in School Pond (into which only the most intrepid members of the team chose to venture). Big Meadow yielded 103 snipe, at times flying up in such in numbers that it was getting very difficult to keep count.
Other sightings: 2 reed bunting and 4 starlings in School Pond, a curlew in Lower Sowerholme plus a heron on Willow Pond, 3 female pheasants and a wren in Big Meadow marsh, and 3 mallards that we seemed to be chasing around the reserve. There is also a lot of frogspawn about. And on the edge of the Fauna path against Big Meadow was this early caterpillar. Can anyone identify?
15 redwings plus one mistle thrush, greenfinch, chaffinch, and goldfinch in the same tree by School Pond this afternoon.
At least 100 redwings feeding on margin of flooded area in West Field yesterday afternoon.