A walk alongside the Bunk line from Church road to the bypass.
Butterflies were the order of the day with literally hundreds of Meadow Brown on the wing today. They were everywhere.
Another 8 Painted Lady seen with some looking very tatty after a presumably long flight and ageing.
Best one of the day was a single Silver-washed Fritillary seen flying around a large garden before disappearing from view.
Good numbers of Marbled White all along the route.
Other species noted were: Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Brimstone (1), Brown Argus (3), Common Blue (8), Red Admiral (6), Small Tortoiseshell (c20), Comma (3), Speckled Wood (2), Ringlet (12) and Small Heath (2).
Some thistles were in flower on the edge of a bean field and these held the majority of Painted Lady, Small Tort and Marbled White.
Dragonflies:Banded Demoiselle (M&F), Large Red Damselfly and Southern Hawker.
A few birds noted were, 3 Yellowhammer, a single Reed Bunting and 2 Common Whitethroat.
Surprisingly I found 2 Pyramid Orchid growing in one of the conservation strips by the side of one of the fields. Sadly almost devoid of any other flowers.
Maybe farmers should be encouraged to plant wild flowers on these strips?
On the down side there were very few Bees noted…..just a handful!
A nice warm day today and reflected by the number of insects around and Painted Lady butterflies just into double figures with 11 seen.
Firstly the Spotted Flycatcher pair still present so staying hopeful.
Then out to Lollingdon and bumped into a Little Owl, one of the pair present out there.
The Swallow family have now fledged with 5 young, sat on the wires and being fed regularly by the 3 adults that raised them.
Several Swift and a couple of House Martin feeding overhead.
8 Yellowhammer still in song on the walk out and several Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Common Whitethroat still singing.
Garden Warbler and Reed Warbler still singing well on Cholsey Marsh (less so Sedge Warbler). Per TW.
A Little Egret seen to fly into Cholsey Brook in the meadow yesterday.
Dragonflies:Banded Demoiselle, Azure Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Large Red Damselfly, Southern Hawker and Emperor Dragonfly.
Butterflies:Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Large Skipper, Brimstone, Large White, Common Blue, Red Admiral (6), Painted Lady (11), Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Speckled Wood, Marbled White and Meadow Brown (most numerous).
Several Painted Lady butterfly in Cholsey today. There were hundreds of thousands moving north along the eastern Mediterranean earlier this year and then west in Europe and have recently reached the UK.
Tony Rayner had a Painted Lady in his garden today and also caught 9 Elephant Hawk-moth in his moth trap.
A walk out to the Lees and beyond today and a little warmer than of late.
The “long ditch” out beyond the Lees was dredged over the winter and subsequently all the growth in and around the ditch was either disrupted or destroyed.
There are no birds breeding along the ditch this year and it seems the Reed Buntings that bred along the ditch have moved out into the crop fields (5 singing males). A lot of the Bullrush, Reed and other plants that were in the ditch have been destroyed but some of the plants on the bank have survived. Any larvae or other life that was in the ditch has also been partially destroyed.
However nature has a way of coming back!
Several Dragonfly species seen along the ditch and a few small fish present (probably Stickleback) and a few Orchid species along the bank.
The “Reedy ditch” at the far end had 5 singing Sedge Warbler and 3 singing Reed Warbler(plus others present) present along with several Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer.
A family group of Swallow spent time feeding over the area (2 adults & 5 young) and a few Swift overhead and a distant Grey Heron.
From Alan: 2 Common Tern again on the river and Lesser Whitethroat.
Dragonflies:Banded Demoiselle, Large Red Damselfly, Azure Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, 4-spot Chaser and Emperor Dragonfly. Per Alan: Brown Hawker and White-legged Damselfly.
Butterflies:Large Skipper, Large White, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Marbled White and Meadow Brown. Per Alan: Small Heath, Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Marbled
White, Small Copper and Large Skipper.
Moths:Cinnabar Moth and Scarlet Tiger. Per Alan: Burnet Companion.
Insects:Black and Yellow Long
Horn Beetle. Per Alan.
Orchids:Pyramid Orchid, Common Spotted Orchid and Poss Marsh Orchid hybrid.
Out walking today along the farm track to the Lees I was asked by a dog walker if I was a “twitcher”. I replied no, not these days and explained what a twitcher was. (The media incorrectly labels all bird watchers or birders as twitchers).
She then went on about the “Crows” that live near the “Old people’s home” (again I explained to her, “it’s not and old folks home”).
And she then proceeded to tell me that the “Crows” had killed a Red Kite (Highly unlikely) and had taken all the eggs (possible if nest was deserted even by another Kite).
She then stated that they are damaging cars by stripping the rubber seals etc. (again very unlikely) and she was going to get a 6 bore to shoot them (Illegal and a license required at least for the weapon).
When I asked how many “Crows” there were she replied “around 30”.
I then explained that the “Crows” around here would not form flocks that large and they were more likely to be Rooks or Jackdaws that use the Rookery near Church road.
I also said that the Rooks and Jackdaws are now roaming into areas that the Crows had dominance over and since their demise (due to someone catching and killing them) it has led to an imbalance. The Rooks and Jackdaws normally fed away from the village on farmland but are now more active in gardens and areas close to the village as are Magpies and Jays.
There are consequences of messing with the balance!
People make” knee jerk” reactions to situations they do not understand and screw it up even more. I would like to see any evidence to support “the Crows” killing a Red Kite and “Crows” stripping rubber off cars! And as for shooting them………my reply would be unprintable!
A Marsh Fritillary butterfly found today by Alan Dawson is a first record in recent times for this rare butterfly.
I am unable to find any documented records for this species in the Cholsey area but could well have been around early last century.
Adults feed on nectar primarily on Betony, Bugle, Buttercups, Cuckooflower, Dandelion, Hawkweeds, Knapweeds, Ragged Robin, Thistles and Tormentil.
Its caterpillar food plant is Devil’s-bit Scabious (also Field Scabious and Small Scabious) and habitats have been destroyed or fragmented over years and this has led to its disappearance from many former habitats.
Is this a wanderer, a release or a bona fide resident? Food plant will be looked for!
Update: Alan Dawson found no Devil's-bit Scabious around the site where this butterfly was found and as it is a female and less likely to wander it has been concluded that this was probably a release!