Monthly Archives: July 2020

Geese and bull

A flock of 30 to 40 geese enjoying the stubble in Flora Field this morning. They were either greylags of pink footed or both, sorry, can’t tell the difference form the distance I observed them.

The new bull has arrived, a fine chunky fellow. Some of the cows were showing a distinct interest this morning so no worries about further calves on the evidence so far.

Highlights of the week

Lots of butterflies out in the sun. On Tuesday we saw a gatekeeper at ‘Thistle Corner’ on the Pony Wood path, commas, a peacock, and lots of whites as we progressed round the wood; speckled woods in the Orchard; small skippers in West Field and the Hay Meadow, plus meadow browns of course. We also saw a smallish dragonfly in the woodland extension, too distant to identify, and the marmalade hoverfly photographed below. A jay was squeaking like a monkey in the wood.

Today more gatekeepers at Thistle Corner, plus the one photographed below in the hedge between Big Meadow and School Pond. A greenfinch was calling noisily near the gates between Big Meadow and Grammar School Field.

IMG_2205 IMG_2217

Mystery Giant Orange Caterpillars

Mandy Bannon sent this message by email:

Mike took this photograph of a writhing  bundle of big orange caterpillars – yesterday  ( July 11th) on Pony Wood – Aldcliffe Rd path. It was about 5 yards down from the bend where the bench is (on Flora field side of the path).  If you zoom in, you’ll see above the caterpillar masse is a fine cobwebby structure that they appeared to be leaving.

Do you know what they might be?

 

20200711_140033 (1)

Toad and fumitory

Toad

Toad

Purple Ramping Fumitory

Purple Ramping Fumitory

Walking along the Long Pads footpath this afternoon and spotted Mr Toad.

Last year we discovered the rather rare plant Purple ramping Fumitory on our land. I marked the spot and took a look this afternoon. There it was!

Dark Giant Horsefly

20200706_132218

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.

Thistles and Insects

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.

Steve Bullen

 

Steve