Sunday, 30 June 2013

Flamin' June

A rather random collection of sightings this month. I've been out to do some bird surveys (for work, even: makes a pleasant change!) so some blisteringly early starts on occasion. Amazing how much quicker the drive to North Devon is at 4 a.m. though... Unsurprisingly, nothing out of the ordinary on any of the sites I've looked at - the pick of the bunch being a handful of Spotted Flycatchers and a single Pied Flycatcher which was gone by the second visit to the site. Still, last visit was heaving with fledglings, which was very nice: the trees packed out on occasion by groups of Blue, Great and Coal Tits wheezing and squeaking through the leaves in hot pursuit of their frazzled parents, Robins and Wrens shrilling insistently from the undergrowth throughout. At one point I obviously passed too close to a family of Wrens for the adult's liking: a short 'tchrr' from a bramble was followed by a starburst of tiny, dumpy, almost tailless brown bodies rocketing into the surrounding plants.

Despite the number of babies around, it's clearly not been a brilliant breeding season. Our boxes at the Willow Tit site on the fringe of the moor were not well used this year: four broods of Blue Tits and two of Marsh Tits in the 27 boxes. Of these, one brood of four Blue Tits died before fledging and one of the Marsh Tit boxes produced just one youngster from a clutch of three eggs. Perhaps a young pair breeding for the first time? On a brighter note though, the (a) pair of Treecreepers used the same gap behind a Marsh Tit nest tat was used last year, and seem to have fledged a full brood of five - last year the chicks all drowned in a torrential downpour (otherwise known as June 2012).

This June's been slightly better, though we had more sunshine in May, and nearly as much in April... The general invertebrate interest in the garden has continued to improve, with the exception of butterflies which are having a very poor year here. We've started to note an increased variety of micro-moths - nothing particularly rare, I don't think, but a bit more of the 'small is beautiful' line again. The pond has obviously settled in nicely, with Large Red Damselflies emerging from the nymphs we saw last year, the newts now breeding successfully (a tiny eft the other day was proof of that) and a bit of interest from the odd hoverfly, backswimmers and a smart male Azure Damselfly. I've turned the old kitchen sink into a tiny pond to go in the back garden as well, so we'll see what takes an interest there - it's currently only about 1/3 full though, as I'm leaving it to the rain to fill it. Maybe not the best move!
Anthophila fabriciana - the Nettle-tap - which is abundant around the nettles in the neighbouring scrub. We've only seen it a couple of times in the garden, but then I'm not out there looking often enough.

I think this is Caloptilia cuculipenella. It seems to fit the description in the book and is (was) hanging around near the ash trees on the edge of the garden.

Easy: nice male Azure Damselfly, Coenagrion puella.

And a bright and breezy hoverfly: Helophilus pendulus, which has taken a liking to the front pond.

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