Thursday, 12 October 2017

Mindless vandalism, Grey Wagtails and more from Cranford Park

I was at Cranford Park for a very short visit on Wednesday (yesterday) and spent most of my visit sitting on the log by the new pond.
 
The pond Robin seems to be quite used to visitors and popped out a few times to see what I was up to....
 
 
and it was really lovely to see our first pond plant in flower. I'm pretty sure this is Marsh Marigold but happy to be corrected.....

 
However within minutes of arriving for my visit this morning (Thursday) I could have cried. Some mindless idiots have not only pulled up the notice put up by the Green Spaces team, thrown the posts in to the pond but also thrown all of the logs in to the pond....
including the one I was sitting on yesterday....




 
Heaven knows what satisfaction they achieved from doing that !! But I know it's going to make a lot of us quite fed up. Many of the volunteers gave up their spare time to help make this pond. Dragena and her team from the council spent hours on this project. Money was invested in it. Time was spent planning it. And for what ? So a few idiotic kids who were obviously dragged up to have no respect, just ruin it in a short time. And yes, I did say kids because we know they were seen trying to remove the sign before being challenged by two dog walkers. Sadly they obviously came back to finish off the job !
 
I hope their parents are really proud of the job they have done in raising children that have absolutely no respect for anyone and who find enjoyment in ruining things for others.
 
Hopefully there will be no long term damage (eg the liner being torn or ripped) but we might have to wait a few days to see if the water level goes down. Extracting the logs from the pond now might make things worse, going in to the pond and trying to move waterlogged lumps of tree is not going to be easy and might even damage the liner even more.
 
Below is the only vandalism I tolerate at Cranford Park.......
a Mallard dragging vegetation down to eat !!!

 
Todays visit was obviously soured by the state of the pond, but there was still a lot to see.
The Kingfishers on the river teased me in their usual way......flying up and down and perching, but always out of camera range. The Grey Wagtails (I am certain there are two now) were much more obliging as always. There was one by the stable blocks again (but no photos) and another on the river with great views from the stone bridge........
 



 
Despite it being almost mid-October, the morning was mild and bathed in sunshine for nearly all of my visit. This meant there were quite a few critters around.
 
The Garden Spider below caught a nice fat juicy fly and swiftly killed it and wrapped it in silk...
 
 
There were several Common Darters flying around and even some Hawkers including this Southern Hawker below. Dreadful out of focus photo but nice to see it perched for a few seconds.....

 
I completed my last UKBMS butterfly transect of the season with a very short tally
 
Eight butterflies / two species
6 x Red Admiral
2 x Speckled Wood

Red Admiral
 I have been seeing the lovely autumn Ivy Mining Bee (Colletes hederae) for the last few weeks, but no photographs until today, and even this is purely a record shot.......
 
 
The Ivy Mining Bee was recorded as new to Britain in 2001 when a bloke called Ian Cross discovered specimens at Langton Matravers in Dorset. Since then, the bee has spread across much of southern England (as far north as Shropshire, Staffordshire & Norfolk) and into south Wales. It is now extremely plentiful in some coastal localities, and increasingly, inland. Peak activity matches the flowering period of its key pollen forage plant, Ivy (Hedera helix), and the species is on the wing from early September until early November. This makes it the last solitary bee species to emerge each year. This is the third year I have found them at Cranford CP.
 
Surprisingly I also found two species of Ladybird this morning...
 
7-spot ladybird

Orange ladybird
The mild weather also bought out some hoverflies. I found three species today. ID's under each picture.....
 
Eristalis sp.

the huge Volucella zonaria

Helophilus pendulus
As always at Cranford Park there was the usual sighting of a Common Buzzard. This one was photographed against the sun so creating its unmistakable silhouette.....
 
 
I spent some time sitting under the huge Yew in St Dunstans. I was hoping for Redwing sightings, one of our winter thrushes, but had to make do with a Grey Squirrel pretending to be an ornamental statue......
 
 
My last photo below is very out of focus but it's the comparison between the leaves and the bird that I wanted people to see. This is one of many many Goldcrests that are making their way around the park this season. The Goldcrest is the UKs smallest bird and weighs roughly the same as a 20p piece. The out of focus bird below is photographed next to holly leaves. That is how small it is. Literally the size of a standard holly leaf.....

 
So not my usual 'bouncy' 'happy' 'carefree' blog post today. I cannot deny that the pond being vandalised has really angered and upset me. I only hope that once Dragena and her team survey the damage, that we find none of it is permanent.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

An autumnal morning at Cranford Park

Its been a busy few days so I was glad to spend a few peaceful hours today at my favourite place.
The butterfly transect also needed recording. Although the sun was out for nearly the whole time I was at Cranford Park, the temperature has noticeably dropped over the last few days therefore I wasn't expecting to see many butterflies, and I was more or less right.
 
Todays butterfly tally....
16 butterflies / 3 species
Red Admiral x 9
Small Copper x 6
Speckled Wood x 1
 
Red Admiral

Small Copper - my new favourite butterfly of 2017
The pond is starting to really take shape now all of the plants are in and the water is topped up. The recent rain has certainly helped. The wildflower seeds that were sown in the stone trough have already started 'sprouting'....
 
 
There's a new polite sign by the pond asking dog owners to please refrain from letting their dogs go in the pond.....
 
 
and I found a Red Admiral basking on the newly laid stones.......

 
I often see Common Buzzards around the Headland area. Some appear to drift over from the direction of the M4 and the adjacent crop field and we've been lucky enough to have them breeding on site for the last two years. Buzzards mate for life and are very territorial. However at this time of year you can see small groups soaring the thermals as they migrate south for the winter. These are usually groups of young adults that haven't yet found a mate. For some reason Buzzards are often mobbed by crows or Jackdaws. The reason isn't clear especially as they mainly feed on rabbits and occasionally reptiles so aren't really a threat to corvids. Both Buzzards and Red Kites are also well known for following a plough when it digs up a new field, to scavenge the worms the plough will bring up. So why do crows find them so threatening ? Who knows, but I witnessed this behaviour this morning as I have many a time.......
 




 
My photos don't do the sequence of events enough justice. My old zoom lens is on its last legs, so I'm frantically saving up for a new one.
 
A more obliging bird for my focusing camera lens in the autumn sun was this lovely Blue Tit.....
 
 
I loitered by the river for a long time, seeing the Kingfisher whizz under the bridge and up and down the river several times. Twice I heard one call behind me and saw two together, but the little darlings had no intention of stopping for a photo opportunity.
And yet again it was a Grey Wagtail that kept me more amused........
 


 
and an hour later when I was sitting under the huge old Yew in the churchyard yet another landed by the gate......


 
It then flew off calling and as I walked around to the stable block there was another bird by the wall under the clock. The chances are it was the same as the 'gate' one, but it would be pretty nice if there were three individual birds.


 
Seeing these beautiful wagtails is becoming a very regular occurrence now, and hopefully next season I'll be able to find out if they are breeding on site.
 
The wild Honeybee colony in the bricked up arches was again very active this morning.....
 
 
The Secret Garden colony was a quite a bit quieter, the Oak Tree colony were even quieter still but the new colony in the dead stumpy trunk by the M4 seems to have gone.
 
The cooler weather meant not many hoverflies seen today, and I only found one perched in the whole time I was there.....
The lovely marked Myathropa florea with it's distinctive 'batman' symbol on its thorax.....

 
It's the season for our Grey Squirrels to start hoarding nuts. Watching them running around with their mouth full searching for a suitable place to bury them, can be quite entertaining....
 

 
Watching the clever Magpies following them around and digging up the recently buried nuts is even more entertaining.....

 
 
To finish todays blog, a short list of the birds seen today....
2 Kingfishers
Common Buzzard
2 Kestrel
Sparrowhawk
2-3 Grey Wagtail
5 Stock Dove
4 Mistle Thrush
Green Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Mallard
3 Moorhen
 
 
 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Spotted Flycatchers and more at Cranford Park

 
By the time I got down to Cranford Park mid morning Dragena and her band of merry men had already made a great start with the new wildlife pond. There are just a few more pieces to do on Thursday then we wait for the wildlife to move in.....
Dragena and her team have done a great job and I cannot wait to see what it looks like next weekend.
 



 
The Stinkhorn fungus that I found a couple of days ago has survived another day of not being kicked over......
 
 
I found the below fungi growing out of one of the many log piles. I'm not 100% sure of identification but I think it's one of the Boletes family. It's very small at the moment so I'll check back on it when I'm next off shift at work.....

 
Which brings me nicely on to my next couple of photos. There are two fungi that I've always wanted to see but never had. One is the tiny Birdsnest fungi and the other is the weirdly wonderful Earthstar. So I was more than a little jealous when my favourite Aunt found eight Earthstars in her garden !! She has sent me the below photos to share.....


 
Fantastic garden tick.
 
Back to Cranford Park, I found the usual male Great Spotted Woodpecker by the Stone Bridge. It is going to be well worth watching the dead trees there in Spring. I've got a funny feeling he may make a nest hold in one of them....
 

 
Even though it was warmer and sunnier today than yesterday, there still weren't that many butterflies out and about. This Comma was the only one that was still enough for a photo.....
 
 
My young friend Stella joined me at lunchtime. It was her first visit to the park so I showed her around most of it.
The leaves are turning in one of the copses producing this great show of autumnal colour.....
 
 
I've said before that Stella is my lucky charm, and she proved me right again today....
We were sitting in St Dunstans church yard when I saw a little brown bird fly out of one of the evergreens, do a semi circle flight and settle back out in the open. The characteristics of the Spotted Flycatcher ! One of the migrating birds that I had hoped to see at Cranford CP this autumn. And there wasn't just one, there were at least two birds, possibly three. Excuse the bad photos below, they weren't being too obliging and were choosing to perch very high up......
 



 
A great few hours out and only cut short because I had to come home and get ready for my next four shifts at work.
 
Stella - you little star, thank you for being my lucky charm.......again ! Hope you enjoyed your visit.