Having not met for two months it was a delight to be out on such a fine morning; six of us turned out, and we were rewarded with many interesting sightings. The flowers were numerous and although identifying some of them can cause us problems, we normally manage to come up with an answer if not on the spot but later at home perusing our books. The butterflies were taking full advantage of the sunshine too and we identified 5 species – last April we saw none. Perched in full view amongst the gorse at Creeksea we watched and listened to a linnet singing and down by the river the whitethroats were doing their ‘song flight’. We saw the first swallows of the year and watched skylarks rising vertically in song-flight and descending with a final steep plunge to the ground. The river was a disappointment with not a single bird feeding on the mud but the warblers in the reed beds made up for that.
A sight that we had not seen before was the abundance of pink & white ‘oak apples’ on the oak trees beside the railway line. These ‘apples’ are formed by a minute gall wasp and apparently there are around seven different types; we did break open an ‘apple’ but couldn’t see the wasp.
The ones we saw seem to have been formed by the oak apple gall wasp (Biorhiza pallida) “which causes flattened rounded galls up to 40mm in diameter to develop on twigs in spring. The galls have a spongy texture and are brownish white, tinged with pink. Males and females emerge in mid-summer and eggs are laid on oak roots. The next (asexual) generation produces marble-like galls on the roots, from which females emerge in late winter to lay eggs in buds on the twigs. (Royal Horticultural Society).
Our local area has so much to offer so why not come and join us on our next outing?
Next Meeting – Monday 15th May 10.00 at the Marina Car Park.
Birds: Kestrel, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Crow, Jackdaw, Robin, Wren, Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Great & Blue Tits, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Blackbird, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Linnet, Skylark, Pied Wagtail, House Martin, Swallow, Green Woodpecker, Pheasant, Cetti’s & Reed Warbler, Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed & Herring Gulls, Common Tern, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Mallard.
Flowers: Daisy, Dandelion, Buttercup, Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Scarlet Pimpernel, Spotted Medick, Beaked Hawkweed, Hoary Cress, Common Field Speedwell, Common Vetch, Red & White Deadnettle, Jack-by-the-Hedge, Ragwort, Oak, Cow Parsley, Horse Chestnut, Gorse, Fumitory, Groundsel, Field Maple, Field Penny Cress, Shepherd’s Purse, Common Reedmace, Alkanet, White Campion
Other: Rabbit, Grey Squirrel, Wasp, 7-spot Ladybird, Oak Gall, White & Buff-tailed Bumble Bees, Brimstone, Peacock, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell, Essex Skipper