We met for the fifth of the ‘Our Patch’ meetings at the slightly earlier time of 9.00. It was a calm, mild and overcast start to the morning with a few promising patches of blue in the sky. We heard many more birds singing than last month; unfortunately we didn’t have with us anyone knowledgeable on birdsong and, with the foliage growing rapidly, many of the birds were lost from sight, but in the marina car park we did identify the songs of Blue Tits and Chaffinch.
Whether because of the earlier hour or because the day was overcast we saw only one butterfly. There were many other insects including some Yellow Dung Flies on a cowpat by the footpath (I didn’t know there were cows here!); apparently these active flies constantly mate and lay their eggs in the dung. A line of three fresh molehills ran parallel to the footpath beside the railway line. There we walked under a poplar tree and disturbed a Great Spotted Woodpecker in it that after giving many alarm calls flew off. We heard and then sighted a Whitethroat on two separate occasions and it was good to see that Swallows have arrived, with one swooping close to us as we passed the barns at Creeksea.
It’s surprising what you see when you walk along actively looking; today the first was at the edge of the field of arable crops in Creeksea (we see a lot of interesting things in this area). In a space where the crops had not seeded satisfactorily masses of small, whitish, yellowish coloured violas bloomed; of course it is possible they were all over the field covered by the crops but here they were abundant.
Skylarks sang over this field and we saw one rise up and also another that dropped down onto the saltings. Another interesting sighting was of a tent of caterpillars on a Blackthorn bush on the seawall; the caterpillars have been in this tent since last autumn and are now emerging to feed. I identified them by this description – ’brown with tufts of ginger brown hair and have a dotted line down each side. The most noticeable feature is the two orange spots near the tail’ – and concluded by reading the last phrase that they were definitely the caterpillars of the Brown Tail Moth, a delightful white moth with brown abdominal hairs which can be seen from July.
From the seawall we notice two Little Egrets flying around the dyke, landing and taking off again and later feeding in the shallow water there – a Magpie was noisily keeping them away from a bush. A small group of Linnets twittered in the weeds to the landward side of the seawall.
There was plenty of activity around the former caravan park and meadow area but nothing noteworthy.
Birds: Blackbird 4, Mistle Thrush, Blue Tit 4(2), Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit 2, Robin 2, Wren, Sparrow 6(2), Starling 15(8), Skylark 3(2), Whitethroat 2, Linnet (4), Pied Wagtail 3, Swallow 3(2), Magpie 9, Wood Pigeon 30(10), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crow 6(2), Little Egret 3(2), Moorhen, Curlew, Black-headed Gull 5, Herring gull, (Heard – Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Chiffchaff, Pheasant – numbers in brackets are those seen in one sighting.
Flowers: Dandelion, Cow Parsley, Bristly Ox-tongue, Red & White Dead-nettle, Creeping Buttercup, Groundsel, Shepherd’s Purse, Spurge, Chickweed, Daisy, Common Speedwell, Scented Mayweed, Gorse, Hoary Cress, Bluebell, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Horse Chestnut
Other: Seven-spot Ladybird, Yellow Dung Fly, Caterpillars of the Brown Tail Moth, Black Slugs, Bumble Bee
10th June – Fingringhoe Wick Nature Reserve meet 10.00 in the Visitor Centre
25th June – ‘Our Patch (6)’ meet Marina Car Park 17.00