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Wildlife Diary.

September 2016

  • 30th September, Kath Shep’ rings and tells me that a few weeks back she saw 2 strange black and white butterflies in her garden. After a brief chat we decide they were Marbled Whites. Perhaps the same ones that turned up at Cotton End Park. Let’ hope they appear next summer. Fab, fat and fast spiders are about. The ‘big, hairy, fast one’ as described by most people from inside their homes is Tegenaria Gigantea. The ‘fat round one with the cross on its back’ in the garden is one of the Orb-web Spiders maybe Araneus Diadematus. Look them up – I dare you.

  • 27th September, Alan Webb reports a young Moorhen being fed by a parent, from the Wharf. We think it is part of a second or late brood. The next day Adam Webb reports it being taken by a Sparrowhawk from the back lawn. Such is life. They also see a young Hedgehog and we can’t help wondering about its chances of survival too. There are mushrooms about, I see Blackening Waxcap, and Horse Mushroom, plus others I don’t know.
  • 23rd September, Migrant Hawker, a female Brimstone, a dead Speckled Bush-cricket, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White all reported. Terry hears a Tawny Owl, and sees Comma and Allison sends me a photo’ of Comma. A Peregrine going towards Watford and more Grey Wagtail records is a sign.

  • 22nd September, an ex-bean field being ploughed brings in maybe 1100 Gulls of only 2 species. Maggie and I see Hobby, and I spend an hour judging the LB Photographic Clubs wildlife photo’ competition with Mike Ivens and Jayne Bassett.
  • 20th September, a small Hedgehog and 3 Hares reported. Meadow Pipits and Skylarks are on the move. Chiffchaffs are starting to sing again.

  • 18th September, a white blob bouncing over the fields towards me has me guessing. Surely it’s a Rabbit, but no, it’s a pure white Grey Squirrel called Lucky. How it is still alive? Snipe, Grey wagtail, Moorhen, 2 Cormorant and 2 Mistle Thrush also seen. Butterflies - Red Admiral, and Speckled Wood, and a Painted Lady heading south at full speed, maybe on a reverse migration.
  • 17th September, I ask the dog to go a bit further than usual, away from the people and into the vastness of the field system. Away from the dog-walking tracks the wildlife is less disturbed. I see Wheatear, and Stonechat being careful not to disturb them myself. 80+ Linnet and 30+ Goldfinch are on the post-harvest soil.

  • 15th September, an afternoon with the children and staff at the junior school is great fun and very rewarding. Mini-beasts, insects, predators, the food chain, metamorphosis, and eco-systems were all up for discussion and the creatures of the Wildlife Garden get heavily examined. Many thanks to Sue Ebbage and all involved.  
  • 11th September, Alan Webb reports Kingfisher from the wharf. Records are now few and far between for these birds. The new pond at CEP has Swallows flying low over the surface and taking a drink. 40 arrive take a quick drink then all are off south. The regular sightings of Buzzard, Red Kite, Hobby, Sparrowhawk, and Kestrel all suggest that the biodiversity at CEP is intact.  
  • 8th September, you’re right, I don’t sit down that often. But at lunchtime I sit on the bench and next two me is a Hebe plant. It has flowered well but now has just one little, purple cone. As I look, a Hummingbird Hawk-moth arrives and, hovering in front of the flower extends it long proboscis and takes a sip. It is there for two seconds. I am Mr Lucky and must try sitting down more often.

  • 7th September, we see 2 Spotted Flycatchers, once a common breeding bird but now just passing through. There are small parties of Meadow Pipit going over almost on a daily basis. CEP has 2 Snipe.
  • 5th September, at Mill Park working on the new education room, we hear and then see 4 Green Sandpipers go over. They are a wading bird and we get the odd one or two, so 4 is good for stat’s and records. They seem to be around most autumn/winters visiting the various odd ponds around the village. A large fungi attracts my attention. Me thinks its Purple Brittle-gill.


  • 4th September, Terry Laney reports Lesser Stag Beetle, Arthur Broughton reports gangs of Swallows and Martins low over his garden. There are dozens of juvenile birds in amongst the loose flocks at CEP. Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Treecreeper, plus Tits and Finches, with Thrushes and the odd Robin.

August 2016

  • 30th August, without asking the people of this country what they think, our government have recently announced that they are allowing gamekeepers to kill our native Buzzards to protect introduced non-native Pheasants. This is rather odd. Buzzards were shot to extinction in this and many other counties, about a hundred years ago. They are British, a native bird and part of the nature of our islands, so common sense and education has led to them eventually returning to grace our skies. And gamekeepers release anywhere from 35 to 50 million Pheasants every year into our countryside without any consideration for the effect that has on our native wildlife. So what percentage of Pheasants are actually killed by Buzzards as compared to say being killed on roads? What percentage of the millions of released Pheasants are actually being shot for ‘sport’ i.e. how efficient is the industry to start with? Pheasants are everywhere and live and die in many ways.  Surely Buzzards mainly kill Rabbits that eat crops – Rabbits in fact damage well £100 million of crops a year, has that process been assessed and quantified for its true value to agriculture and us? And finally, in our civilized and educated society, what message does shooting that fabulous bird out our skies, say to our children? The Gamekeepers I know and work with in this village think this legislation will alienate the public, and further damage the image of the countryside and the people in it.
  • 29th August, Feast Day! I am at it all day on the Long Buckby Green Spaces stand. And as usual people see me and remember a wildlife record they needed to give me. So thanks to Angela for the Stoat, Caroline for the Blue butterfly and Bats, Alex for the Green Woodpecker, David for 3 Buzzards, and the two ladies that said they saw a young Badger in the ally-way near Benbow Farm as they were walking to the feast at about 1300hrs. In the damp orange glow of the evening I hear a Little Owl calling.
  • 28th August, CEP has Goldcrest, Coal, Blue, Great and Long-tailed tits, alongside Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Robin in a mixed flock in the big Sycamore trees. There are at least 12 Speckled Woods on site, also Red Admiral, and the last of the Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. Hanglands has a patrolling Southern Hawker, a record 6 male Ruddy Darters, 1 Common Darter, and a female Black-tailed Skimmer, a species I haven’t seen there for years. I meet David and Jonathon Evans on the footpath near Vanderplanks Covert, and we see a family of Hobby’s, two adults, two juv’s, swooping for Dragonflies over the ponds. A young Kestrel and several Jackdaws join in and for five minutes they chase, harass, and play in the afternoon sun.
  • 18th August, Alan Webb reports a Sparrowhawk taking a House Sparrow, and sees 3 Juvenile Grey Wagtails at the Wharf. Hobby, Red Kite, and Green woodpecker reported. The run-off pond on the new estate near Manning Road holds a Mallard with ducklings, and as I approach a shrill piping call tells me there is a Common Sandpiper there. Sure enough up it gets and flies around a couple of times before settling on a culvert. Is that a 1st for the Parish?
  • 17th August, a perfectly marked Badger lies in the road this morning. She is a big sow and I guess her cubs are beginning to wonder where she is. A dead Fox cub is also laying peacefully across the white lines on the 428.
  • 13th August, a Sparrowhawk swings though the farm yard at Grange Farm after a shocked Swallow. The latter are busy on their second brood and now is not the time to be eaten. The young of many species are about, and a good dozen young Blackbirds are in our Rowan and Yew trees stripping out the berries. I don’t think any of the berries are actually ripe but this doesn’t seem to matter. Kestrel, Mistle Thrush and Linnets all have young about at Cotton End Park. Hobby reported, also Panted Lady and Holly Blue. I see over a thousand Black-headed, Common and Lesser Black-backed Gulls together on a field being disked, and spend a good hour searching through them for oddities.

  • 10th August, Doc How reports Green Shield-bug and Raven from Stenhouse Close. Dan at Grasscroft has Tree Bumblebees. Hanglands has Painted Lady and Red Admiral with the Whites and Gatekeepers.
  • 7st August, Hobby three days on the trot. The aforementioned House Martins are the target as young inexperienced birds join the flock. 2 Migrant Hawker at the front of the house are hunting amongst the Ivy in the evening sunshine. A Brown-eared Bat is seen as it takes a spider from a web at the Living Room window. We haven’t seen those here many years, although I don’t spend a lot of time looking.
  • 5th August, Billy and I are restacking some fire-wood. The original stack collapsed for no apparent reason, but drying and shrinking must play a part in destabilizing. We see and carefully avoid spiders, wood-lice, ants and beetles. Job done and into the garden, Comma, Gatekeeper, Large and Green-veined-white are joined by Holly Blue. We see Hobby zap over after being warned by the Holyoake Martins. Have you noticed that all the Swifts have gone?
  • 3rd August, a Common Tern comes over the village at 1730hrs. From East to west.
  • 1st August, more reports of Dragonflies in and around houses and gardens. Southern Hawker seem to be the commonest, but Brown Hawker and Common Darter are also seen. Ben reports seeing Greenfinches with Trichomonosis. This killer disease had a massive impact on populations of greenfinch locally but they have recovered somewhat recently as reported. Ben suggests we all make sure we clean our bird feeders and tables regularly as this is thought to be where it is contracted.  

July 2016

  • 31st July, Jo and Mike separately report Red Kites. Two birds are seen over the rape fields as they are being harvested. They are scavengers and cruise about staring intently at the newly exposed ground. Rob jumps off the ‘combine’ for a beer at the back gate. We talk moisture, tonnage, ploughing, beer and dogs, all in 1 minute. The sun shines, the days are long, the time is now..


  • 30th July, 21 species of butterfly so far and I haven’t tried for the Purps’ at the Station yet. It is my birthday and I treat myself by getting up early and strimming the flower meadow at Hanglands. It is the once a year equivalent of scything, in fact a scythe would do a better job other than the ground being uneven. I am watched by a young Buzzard and a Kite comes over to look for pickings. A male Brown Hawker is patrolling the fast evaporating 2nd pond. It’s called a Brown Hawker because as with all named things that’s the first impression - a brownish thing. On closer inspection it has amber yellow wings, and blue and yellow blocks and rings on its chocolate-orange, brown body, a real beauty. The flowers and grass tumble, and the seed-pods of the vetch are still popping as it lays on the ground. The sweat rolls down my face, and I breathe in the smell of summer.

  • 27th July, Butterflies reports still coming in, courtesy of the sunshine, with Brimstone, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, and Red Admiral seen. A big green and black Dragonfly appears in the garden during the evening, a female Southern Hawker, may be eyeing my rather pathetic garden pond.

  • 22nd July, Terry reports 2 Holly Blue butterflies, and I see Painted Lady and Peacock. Tony sends a photo of his resident Toad, a formidable looking lady indeed. Ruddy Darter at Hanglands is a good find as some years I have none. Having mentioned Lesser Black-backed Gulls (LBBG) on the 20th I see no reason not to push my luck again so here goes. An LBB came over the top of the village from the North. I assumed it was one of the Dav’ birds as they are almost a daily feature of the skies at the moment. As it was alone I had a look and as it circled noticed it was black on the back. Of course it is you say that’s why it’s called a LBBG.

Actually no. Our British LBBG are the race Graellsii, and are sort of slate grey on the back. This bird was the race Intermediate/fuscus which breed in Scandinavia and winter in West Africa, and this bird circled twice to look at the new pond at Cotton End Park.

  • 20th July, Comma joins the butterfly list and July Belle, the moths. Tommo and I start to tackle the garden but we still have nests of Blackbird, Robin and Dunnock with chicks, so I cancel the operation, much to Tom’s delight. Plus we disturb a big Frog. I know Gulls are not that interesting but I challenge you to go to the Royal Oak industrial estate in Daventry on a sunny day and not be thinking of the seaside after five minutes. The sounds of Gulls, in this case Herring Gull, and Lesser Black-backed Gull, nesting on some of the vast roof tops is quite evocative. Either that or I am in real need of a holiday.

  • 19th July, Hobby again over village suggests breeding locally. A very hot day is bringing out the insects and my garden is abuzz. At work on some garden lights on Pytchley Drive and I disturb a large red/white/black moth which I work out to be Scarlet Tiger.

  • 13th July, Vicky and I see Hobby over Armley, and David sees the Kite low over Market Place. 9 species of Dragons at CEP including the first Brown Hawker, and 11 species of Butterflies including Marbled White (3!) Small Skipper and Red Admiral. The first Common Darter reported.
  • 10th July, a brilliant royal blue male Common Blue butterfly appears whilst I search for the Marbled White. I see that and another. A Raven and a Red Kite cruise over.

  • 9th July, Tony sends a photo of a moth I think is Leopard Moth. Common Shrew, and Gatekeeper are reported.
  • 6th July, CEP has hundreds of butterflies on the wing including Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, and Large Skipper in the meadow, and as if by magic a Marbled White suddenly pops up. I am not sure there are any colonies left in Buckby parish so this is good news. The small pond at Hanglands is hosting an emergence of Southern Hawkers. A dozen or so newly formed adults are resting next to their exuvia, building themselves up to the first flight of their lives. The Water Lilies flowers are just perfect.
  • 5th July, Brian finds a roadkill Little Owl towards Surney Bridge, and I find a roadkill hedgehog on Spencer Road. As an electrician I find myself travelling the roads through nearby villages and have noticed how every village seems to have a resident squashed Hedgehog on its main road. I rarely if ever see a squashed Hedgehog outside the villages themselves as if Hedgehogs only live in villages, not in the greater countryside.
  • 3rd July, CEP work party is enlightened by views of Beautiful Demoiselle, Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Red Kite, and the Red Arrows, as well as hundreds of butterflies.

  • 2nd July, Mr Ball from Parkfield donates some slabs to Mill Park and we see 2 Trout in the stream at the bottom of his garden whilst collecting them. Mike Ivens reports a Little Egret, and we find a pair of mating beetles we think are Gastrophysa viridula, whilst we unload. Hobby at dusk over Grange Farm.
  • 1st July, Kevin reports a large Grass Snake from CEP whilst starting on the new pond. I pop down to monitor progress and hear a Little Owl, and a reed Bunting and see a pair of Grey Partridge, 2 Black-tailed Skimmers, and 5 Broad-bodied Chasers. Dean reports 14 Ducklings with the pair of Tufted Duck at Evans Ponds, and Painted Lady is seen on Jackson Track.

June 2016

  • 30th June, some poor weather is supressing the insect activity and this is telling on the Swifts. They are normally high level feeders, racing through the skies gathering insects. When the weather is poor they come lower down and this leads to accidents with cars and sometimes buildings, as they have the speed but often not the manoeuvrability. Swallows however are low level insect catchers and often follow animals, vehicles and us as we inadvertently flush insects. My two Hebridians, Romulus and Remus refuse to get in the trailer and go on holiday with the rest of the CEP sheep. They now stand there staring over the gate. A Wren is singing full-belt on the gate post as if to scald them.     
  • 26th June, the good thing about looking up at a bird in the sky is you often see other birds in the process. I take the time to look at the now daily, but still amazing, Red Kite for a few seconds and notice 2 Hobby’s calling and swooping around it. I wonder if they have a nest nearby?
  • 24th June, at CEP working out with Kevin where the new ‘peoples pond’ is going to be and we see some big Dragonflies. The largest, a big blue-bodied male Emperor, is patrolling the open water on the existing pond with Black-tailed Skimmer and Broad-bodied Chaser around the edges. A male Southern Hawker appears. In the flower studded grassy areas, the first Meadow Browns and Ringlets join the Large Skippers amongst the Clover and Buttercup.
  • 19th June, Buckby birder Ben sees a Weasel and Red-legged Partridge at Cotton End Park, and sees 30 other bird species during his survey around the village. My wife sees a Jay.

  • 15th June, escorting more guests to Hanglands for the Bee Orchids, and we hear a quiet but grating warble from inside a Hawthorn. It is a Sedge Warbler. We call the quieter song that some birds sometimes do, sub-song and think it may be the bird practicing to itself prior to the main performance. This bird did eventually come out from the centre of the bush to the topmost twig and give the full rendition. Better late than never, there are 4 Speckled Woods on the wing.
  • 12th June, A drowsy Lesser Stag Beetle wondered on the drive at home and even through the mandibles look a bit scary, I pick it up and deposit it in the log-pile out back. There is a degree of truth and humour in my sons remark that it might have spent the last three days walking away from there in the first place. I find a big moth and have the joy of looking it up in a book. It is Scalloped Oak. Fab names Moths.
  • 11th June, with kind invitation from Trevor Moore of Costcutter, Sue and Chris Ebbage and myself are given access to private land off the West Haddon Road. Trevor and his family have created some wonderful habitats based on Trevor’s love for the Barn Owl. Sue and Chris were armed with their professional cameras and although the weather isn’t kind we still manage to see some good wildlife including Common Spotted Orchid and Chimney Sweeper Moth. Afterwards I took them to Hanglands NR to look at the Bee Orchids.  
  • 10th June, there are Daddy long-legs or Crane Flies emerging at the moment and there is more than one species to look for. The commonest (Tipula Paludosa) is fairly dull and tends to emerge a bit later in the year but at the moment the small yellowish ones are the Spotted Crane-fly, and the massive ones with camouflage wings are Tipula Maxima.  
  • 9th June, a warm morning at ponds of the Brington Road produces Dragonflies including Four-spotted and Broad-bodied Chasers, a Male Beautiful Demoiselle, and Azure, Red-eyed, Common Blue and Large Red Damselflies. Speckled Wood represented the Butterflies, and Silver Y, Brown China-mark, and Silver Ground Carpet, the Moths. A family of 4 Grey Heron and Coot were also about.  
  • 8th June, Red Kite is becoming daily and quite low over the village. Buzzards tend to come over the houses to get some thermal lift from heat retention in the roads and houses, and disappear up and away, but the Kite is looking for food. Maraki reports a House Martin from the Holyoake crew being taken by a Sparrowhawk and suggest there are about 10 active nests which is more than last year. This contrasts with the loss of nests on The Banks and I wonder if The Banks crew has joined the Holyoake crew. Safety in numbers and all that.
  • 6th June, one of the three immature Broad-bodied Chaser I saw last week has started to gain the blue colouring on the abdomen telling me it’s a male. He is fighting his brothers to establish a territory at the small pond on Hanglands. A Cormorant goes over towards Watford and the resident Lesser Whitethroat is still singing his heart out. Terry Laney reports Speckled Wood and 2 Painted Lady’s. The former is about a month late, and the latter a month early!

May 2016

  • 29th May, I walk past Evans Ponds on the footpath along the parish boundary with Watford and Haddon. I find a male Common Blue butterfly and 5 Burnet Companion moths, plus a Silver Y. There are lots of colourful Damselflies, like hovering matchsticks, Large Red, Azure Blue, White-legged, and Blue-tailed. There are Yellow Flag Iris and Ragged Robin in flower, and in the air above a Red Kite is following me, and a Lark is hard at it high in the big blue, oh the spring! 

  • 28th May, at Hanglands the Lesser Whitethroat and Blackcap are singing over the sound of my strimmer. I stop to refuel and in the distance a Cuckoo utters two ‘cuckoos’. It is my first of the year and as far as I know the only one for the parish. I call Cuckoo enthusiast, Jenny Spokes, she arrives fairly quickly but we don’t hear it again. There are 3 Broad-bodied Chasers over the Nettle beds. They are huge insects and so perfectly adapted to hunting flight. During the evening the family joins me and we see 2 Hobbys together looking like they are house hunting. The Hobby is an ace catcher of Swallows, Martins and Swifts and nests in old Crows nests. We also see a ginger-red Fox his coat shining in the evening sun.

  • 25th May, two residents of Parkfield and Syers Green Close report the Red Kite circling overhead. The smallish Hedgehog I saw on East Street last week didn’t last long and is squashed in the same place I saw it the other night. Sue Plant sees Red Kite and an Egret. Unbelievably, a white Egret these days could be a Little Egret or a Great White Egret, as both species are fairly regular in the county. The ‘Little’ is obviously smaller than a Grey Heron, the ‘Great White’ looks bigger. Red Admirals reported.

  • 24th May, Neil Chanter (our man on The Banks) relays that the House Martin colony on The Banks is no more. He has been on there for many years and says that in 2014 there were seven active nests but last year just three. This year they came and looked but did not stay. My wife finds a May Bug or Cockchafer, a now rare, large beetle, and gets a good photo. I just don’t see them anymore.

  • 23rd May, Red Kite overload. There are 2 being seen quite low over the village which is upsetting the Jackdaws and Starlings that are busy breeding. I see a Hobby whilst watching a Kite, and Neil sees a Hobby as well. Holly Blues are in my garden and I see a female lay her eggs on the budding flowers. To my dismay a Blue Tit comes along five minutes later and seems to be picking at the very same spot.
  • 21st May, Alan Webb finds a Grey Wagtails nest whilst on a WBLA work party on the Canal. My family use it as an excuse for a walk and enjoy seeing Grey Heron, Moorhen and Mallard with fluffy young, and the Wagtails. The mature gardens along the sides hold at least 2 singing Goldcrest’s plus Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps.
  • 20th May, A Mute Swan flies over as do 2 Cormorant. Red Kites are daily and Buzzard and Sparrowhawk barely get a mention. I see a live smallish Hedgehog on East Street during the evening and keep my fingers crossed.

  • 17th May, I have been with a lady teaching her bird song and have realized that 40 odd years of knowledge cannot be passed on that easily. She shows me an app’ which is a real asset, and makes it easier for me to give out ‘homework’. I use it to sort out the annual bird song issue; is that a Blackcap or is it a Garden Warbler? It is a well known birding dilemma that even the good birders struggle with, but the app’ is very helpful when the memory lets you down.

  • 15th May, my neighbours draw my attention to 2 Red Kites low over the village, and other reports of them come in. At CEP we find a Robins nest with 5 chicks and a Pheasant on 12 eggs. There has been a hatching of St Marks Fly, again a couple of weeks later than last year. There is a part circle of St Georges Mushroom, you could argue they are late as well. Bernie, Lee, Cassie, David, Daniel, Jo and others see the Kites.

  • 8th May, Nick Hudson sends a great photo of the large house spider Tegenaria Gigantea, and Ben Reeve sees 30 bird species, including Moorhen with chicks at CEP. At Hanglands NR, the first of the dragons/damsels are about in the form of 2 immature Large Red Damsels. There are one or two Bee Fly’s hovering in front of anything that looks like it might be the entrance of a bees nest, flicking their abdomens as they deposit eggs. The young are parasites of mining bees.
  • 7th May, I see young Blackbirds and a young Robin along Lodge Lane. Other than size, they look rather similar at this age which belays their belonging to the same bird family The Thrushes. This family also includes Redstarts, Wheatears, Nightingale, The Chats, and of course the true Thrushes like Mistle, and Song. I pop into CEP and find young Mistle Thrushes, a Great-spotted Woodpecker, singing Blackcap and a brief glimpse of a Spotted Flycatcher. These are rare now, 20 years ago there were several pairs annually about the village. A splash of soft pink tells me that at last the Ladies Sock/Cuckoo Flower is in bloom. These flowers must be two weeks later than last year. Terry Laney reports Bee Fly, and Raven, and whilst looking up sees a large raptor alongside a Common Buzzard which he thinks is a Honey Buzzard. These birds are a rare British breeding bird and live on the larvae of wasps and bees, in the forested parts of the UK.

  • 6th May, a warm day and the House Martins, and Swifts are over the village making a stand for summer. I see Little owl and a Hare off the Brington Road, and there are several of each of Holly Blue, Orange-tip, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock about.

  • 5th may, Beth York sees Orange-tip at Watts Way, and a Peacock is seen in South Close. There are many parties of Mallard ducklings about the village and a nervous female is escorting her 14 down East Street to the delight/dismay of the morning commute. Yesterday’s one Swift turns into 13 and they scream in formation above The Library. Adam reports a Stoat and a Red Kite.

  • 4th May, 7 house martins from the Holyoake crew are about over The Leys, and a Swift appears amongst them. Thomas reports 3 Bats from the garden.

  • 2nd May, I am aware that one of the regular passage migrants is missing from my list and that the passage time period is nearly up. I have been making an effort to go to where I might expect to see Redstart but have failed so far. With maintenance of the ponds at Hanglands NR on my mind I spend a couple of hours carefully clearing some dead bulrush and on my way back, having to open a couple of field gates, look up and see the satisfying flash of brick-red telling me a Redstart is fly-catching. The female sits for me while I grab the binoculars and then after a minute slips away.

April 2016

  • 30th April, the North wind has stopped and game is on. The First Yellow Wagtail comes over Lodge lane, then ten minutes later another. I change tack and head for the big fields towards Haddon. I break out the artillery, and methodically use the telescope to scan the fence tops and hedges, and am eventually rewarded by distant shapes that ‘look good’. I am in my element as I move through the countryside, it is like hunting but I just want to see and identify. The skill is not be seen or disturb what you are looking at, to get the sun behind you, to be patient and move in a certain way, to position, to focus. A fine male Whinchat, followed by a female Wheater. The whole of this month I’ve been searching, and now the reward. Passage migrants are special. All the way from Africa, heading to Northern lands, the chances of connecting with them is quite low, and as I sit in a small gap in this hedge miles from anywhere I can’t help but smile. 2 Hares, 9 Skylarks, 2 Grey Partridge, 1 Lapwing and 3 Yellow Wagtails make the day. 
  • 28th April, the Wood Pigeon squab leaves the nest above the porch with an explosion of twigs, feathers and poo. It sits under my truck willing to be squashed but I chivvy it out and assist it into the air with my right boot. Hares reported from 3 places over the last week. We see only 1 House martin over Murcott, and the cold wind is still holding things up. 
  • 26th April, morning after morning of frost and cold winds are holding back many species. I find the buds of a Ladies Smock a good week away from opening. At Cotton End Park the peace is wonderful as the Community Flock plus lambs have now gone on holiday. The paddocks now have Mistle and Song Thrushes, Blackbird, Robin, Moorhen, Stock Dove, and Jackdaw generally feeding. The car-park has twenty odd Greenfinches and Chiffchaffs and Blackcap sing from the greenery. A pair of Kestrel are ever present.
  • 24th April, early morning, pre-work, migrant hunting, walks are now regular. 5 Lesser and 2 Common Whitethroats noted. Later David Walden and I see the season’s first Hobby over East Street. The standard dead Hedgehog is a sad sight. Survives a long winter’s hibernation, gets up, goes for breakfast, gets run over. We find a dead Muntjac in the field. It too has the injuries suggesting an RTI. To match that the badgers are throwing themselves under cars. It’s all to do with too much speed and/or not caring anyway. Lambing duties, work and the park are all consuming. My old Herdwick slips a still-born, but the Swart gives a pair of fine long-legged sprites.
  • 20th April, a bit of warm produces the first Green-veined White butterfly plus Small Tortoiseshell and Brimstone. A House Martin appears in the sky briefly, and I see a pair of Linnets, a Jay and 3 Tree Sparrows, on a long walk. Neil sees Nuthatch, and Jenny reports Bats, and a Meadow Pipit goes over. I see 5 species of Bumblebee over the course of the week. 
  • 16th April, The trouble with declaring Spring is that it then backs out of the deal. In a raw wind I give myself time to walk to Oak Tree Farm, 2 Swallows pass by and I hear a new arrival, a Lesser Whitethroat singing from Vanderplanks Covert. It is cold again and I amble down Lodge Lane wondering why there are no more migrant birds about. It than snows on me and I give up looking. Jim Jelley reports Little Egret and Swallow. Richard Brennecker reports Willow Warbler and Red Kite.
  • 13th April, I am in the office with the doors open to the front of the house when I hear the House Sparrows start to argue. The sound increases and then I hear 2 dull thuds. I get up and look outside to see if they have hit the windows but no. Then I go back into the house and there on the kitchen sink sit a pair of Sparrows. Being stunned they let me pick them up and I return to the front and sit them on the wall for a moment of recovery. 2 Swallows and a Brimstone go over the garden and later I see the first Willow Warbler of the year. David Green sees Bats around Ashmore/High Stack. I mentally declare Spring.
  • 10th April, I am amazed to see a dozen or more Greenfinches around Cotton End. I have also seen some down at St Lawrences. Maybe they starting to build numbers again. Near the Old Coopers on Lodge lane, a/the last lone Fieldfare is feeding in the sheep paddock. Common Carder, and Red-tailed Bumblebees are about the gardens, and Thomas and his mates see the Owl hunting in the field near the Church. Brian Laney reports Scarlet Tiger moth caterpillars on Comfrey at Market Place.
  • 9th April, I am opening the Park and hear an odd song, I grab the bins’ and see a grey/brown Chiffchaff feeding with 2 ‘normal’ Chiffchaffs in the massive Sycamore at Heath View. It is acting rather oddly moving rapidly and uttering bits of Chiffchaff-like song but with other complex aspects. I eventually get good views of the bird and think it is an eastern or maybe a ‘Siberian’ form. These forms seem to get into the UK during winter, but it’s still a bit of a shock to see one in Buckby. I go home and access the ‘net finding a positively identified ‘Sibe’ Chiffchaff singing similar phases to my bird. I text the county bird recorder and he suggests I use my phone to get a recording of the song, but when I get back to the park the birds are quieter and I don’t get any conclusive song. Regardless of the song I am still happy, based on plumage alone, that the bird was probably a ‘Sibe’ Chiffchaff. 
  • 7th April, I wake up and look out the bedroom window and see 2 male Blackcaps having a drink at my small pond. Neil Chanter reports a grey Tawny Owl from the allotments, and Mandy, Keith and others see the Short-eared Owl again.
  • 5th April, the fabulous Bridge House Farm Lake has 4 Swallows, 2 Grey Wagtails and 2 Pied Wagtails. On the water there are 14 Teal, 2 Gadwall, 6 Mallard and 2 Moorhen. Pete Seymour reports Red Kites and Ravens daily plus hopefully a breeding pair of Lapwing. Donna sees 2 Stoats around the Sheep shed at CEP, and Alison finds a live Bee Fly.

  • 4th April, Terry Laney reports Chiffchaff, and there are 2 at CEP on morning check-round. Alan Webb has Redpoll on his feeders, and a Cormorant is seen over the village.

March 2016

  • 30th March, There has been talk on social media of a Parrot type bird down at The Wharf, so Alan Webb eventually tracks it down and confirms it is a Ring-necked Parakeet. An introduced or escaped exotic species that is now breeding in large numbers in southern England. My thanks to Alison Squire for being observant enough to notice a dead Bee Fly on a washing line peg. (See photo) the insect has been affected and killed by Entomophthora muscae, a fungus that makes the insect hang or stretch outwards before death so the fungi can more easily release and disperse its spores. Rick Bunnage also found a good example of this a couple of years ago. Fantastic stuff.   
  • 27th March, Kevin Spokes reports a Little Owl, good numbers of Greenfinch, and Hare, from Grove Farm. Terry Laney sees Ravens over South Close, a Weasel at Surney, and hears a Curlew over the Brington Road. There are 4 Raven and 8 Buzzard together over Lodge Lane. Neil Chanter gets first prize for the first bird migrant, in the form of a singing Chiffchaff off The Banks, and Jenny Spokes reports 2 Redpoll on feeders at Hammas Leys via Steve Dickenson. Tufted Duck reported from Vanderplanks pond.
  • 25th March, the Song Thrushes seem to be in better numbers this year if you go by the singing birds. I still don’t actually see any, with the assumption they are very secretive and mainly crepuscular. At Hanglands NR there are eight clumps of Frogspawn, calling Bullfinches, Fly-over Meadow Pipit and the now common, Ravens. I do a bit of pond maintenance and whilst thigh deep in freezing cold mud see a Peregrine go over. At home my wife shouts Brimstone and claims the first for the year, we then see Peacock and I go into my office and my hibernating Small Tortoiseshell is gone. Thank God. I’ve been sitting in the cold all bloody winter so as not to wake it up. I’ve also kept the ever increasing Cellar Spiders from attacking it. Alan Webb has a Rook on his fat balls.
  • 22nd March, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies are reported. Catharina Hunter reports Snipe and we see a big (female) Peregrine being hassled by 2 possible males. There have been one or two more Peregrines around so far and I think there is a link with the planting of rape. Oil-seed rape is a favourite of Woodpigeons. If fact I reckon they consume over 25% of the plants actual growth during the early stages. Anyhow, Pigeons generally, are number one prey item for Peregrines.
  • 19th March, I am in conversation with a chap from East Haddon regarding wildlife and we get onto woodland management. We discuss the mildness of the winter and the sourcing of firewood and I question the sustainability of hard wood production for the fire place and he drops a bomb-shell. The claims the majority of ‘kiln-dried, hardwood firewood’ sold by the local suppliers is from Eastern Europe. He says that it is harvested, dried and shipped in on pallets from the Baltic States. Did you know that? Is that what we should be doing? No wonder our native trees are under constant attack by new diseases.

  • 18th March, I am unintentionally positioned under an evening Woodpigeon roost. I am actually looking out for Owls, but none so far. And then it starts to snow. No it isn’t snow but small white feathers drifting down from the preening pigeons. It is an odd experience.  A Small Magpie Moth appears in the kitchen, has it been hibernating?
  • 17th March, a lone male Lapwing is trying hard not to be put off his chosen nest site. He just managed to breed there last year raising 2 young. For several years if not a decade there were no Lapwings nesting in the parish, but a couple of years ago 1 or 2 pairs came back. The trouble is careless dog walkers are not controlling their animals and the dogs are running a-mock whilst their owners are stumbling along staring at their ‘phones. Lapwings are ground nesting birds and are a rare and precious part of our village wildlife. This year there may be just 3 pairs trying to hold territory. Please control your dogs. (As I write the said Lapwing has now given up the fight and gone and that’s a real shame)
  • 15th March, some Redwings and Fieldfares appear, they are feeding up ready to head north. Meadow Pipits, Redpoll and Siskins are also in the skies, and Skylarks are in full song.

  • 13th March, some welcome sun brings out the first butterfly, a Small Tortoiseshell. There are Bees and Ladybirds about and in the Co-op car park the Collared Doves, Jackdaws and Woodpigeons are all sitting in pairs. Norman How reports Barn Owl from the top of Stenhouse Close, and Chrissy gamble reports a Red Kite. Buckby Birder Ben sees 27 species of birds including a Brambling (the first and probably last record of this winter species in the parish this season) at the end of Wright Road.
  • 10th March, Phil says his neighbour has frogspawn but he just has Frogs, patience Phil, patience. There are 3 Lapwings in the bean field at Cotton End. Eileen reports a Barn Owl whilst walking her lovely doodle.

  • 9th March, 24hrs of rain combined with tons of branches and twigs from the slaughtered hedges adds up the several floods in the village. I inspect the ditches and culverts at a handful of sites about the village and find them all blocked by hedge ‘trimmings’. My local farmer tells me that to save money, they cut the hedges once every two years and so are severe as they can be each time. The result is very badly damaged hedges with tons of splintered wood filling the drainage ditches. There is little leaf producing life left on the plants so for example, nesting birds will find it harder to find cover and breed. From an ecological view it’s a bloody disgrace. For the economy of the village it was also bad news. Locally flooding stopped hundreds of commuters from getting to work on time. Deliveries, appointments, and general travel disruption etc, but hey….. the farmers saved some money. 
  • 8th March, We are hedge-laying at the park and find a Stonechat. The Rooks at the railway station and at Vanderplanks Covert are in full breeding mode. Lots of raised voices, nest building, squabbling, and general mayhem. As colony nesters you would have thought they would get on better with each other.


  • 7th March, Keith Thompson reports the Short-eared Owl again at the fields below the church. This could be the same bird from before but moving back through. 4 Raven, 4 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, and Siskin over the village.

  • 4th March, Alan Webb reports Siskin, and 2 Goldcrests from his garden at The Wharf. 1 Lapwing flies over CEP heading North, then we see a pair in the field next to Marrowell whilst picking up sheep food. Red Kites seen over A5 and A428.


February 2016

27th February, in the cold clear morning air I can just pick out the disjointed song of a male Reed Bunting somewhere from the wildlife area at the park. I scan for a while then spot him on a plump mace of Bull-rush. His dark head, white collar and streaked back are the colours and shapes or the reed bed around him. He is cousin to the Yellowhammer also a Bunting, but the song of the Yellowhammer, which is now just starting to sing is the sweet classic ‘little bit of bread and no cheese’. The song of the Reed bunting however is a short, uncertain stutter of single and double syllables rather like counting numbers out of order ‘one – two – seven – ten – thirteen’. I am pleased that for the third year now this rare parish bird has chosen to attempt to breed at Cotton End Park.

  • 26th February, Jonathon Evans reports Snipe. Chrissy Gamble a Green Woodpecker, David Walden a pair of Mallard, and Alan Webb, 2 Siskins. Red Kite over Ashmore.
23rd February, to my teenage sons dismay a big queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee wakes him at 0700hrs trying to get out of his bedroom window. After a brief discussion we work out there are a thousand places in his room it could have happily spent the winter without fear of disturbance!
  • 21st February, Solitary Bees are reported, plus other insects are about. Song Thrush, Skylark and Starling are singing well and Cowslips are reported in flower. Lesley reports a Treecreeper from her garden that flew into a window and stunned itself for a moment before flying off. 2 Meadow Pipits fly over. I find some hibernating Ladybirds they are all different in looks but all are Harlequin Ladybird. They are also called Asian Multi-coloured Lady Beetles and were introduced for agricultural use to tackle Aphids. It is suggested that they are now out of control and happily eat other Ladybirds. Rather predictably the agricultural experts are too embarrassed to admit that this has had anything to do with the decline of our once common native Seven-spotted Ladybird.   
  • 20th February, Kathy Hall finds a Pipistrelle Bat clinging to her house wall during the daytime. Rather cleverly she stands planks of wood around it to protect it from cats etc. The Haisman’s report that the House Sparrows reported earlier in the month have now fledged the nest.
  • 18th February, neighbour Dave reports Eileen seeing a Fox go past our front gardens, and my wife sees a Tawny Owl fly over and land on another neighbour’s wall near their bird feeder. Sue sends some great photos of Redpolls. I think they are the British form known as Lesser Redpoll, which are common, though in winter we do sometimes get what used be called the Mealy Redpoll, and is now known as Common Redpoll which quite rare. Yes I don’t understand it either.

 Forgive me for I am going to have my annual moan about the flaying of hedges. I can’t work it out. The hedges are recognised as being the last bastion of wildlife in the greater arable landscape yet no law stops them being totally abused to a point where they become useless for wildlife. I see miles of splintered stumps, many have rabbit guards on them which is laughable, and were no doubt part of a subsidised scheme. This may be the reason why I can walk miles through the countryside I call home and see no birds smaller than a Wood Pigeon.

  • 10th February, many Prunus are now in blossom. In the village, Cherry Plum and their cultivated cousins are the first to show flowers, a nice example being those at the very top of Pytchley Drive. Little Owl reported from Watford Park. Skylark, Blue Tit, and Chaffinch now starting to put song together. Interestingly I notice there are a few more Greenfinch about in the village this winter. They must be some way to recovering their population from the massive decline brought on by Trichomoniasis a few years back.                

  • 7th February, Richard Haisman reports a nest of House Sparrow chicks on The Banks. The volume of their calls would suggest they hatched in January! Neil reports Barn Owl from ‘the owl field’. Two Red Kites together being seen regularly at East Haddon, Holdenby, Ravensthorpe, and Buckby, suggesting perhaps a pairing and hopefully nesting nearby?

January 2016

  • 31st January, in a half hour sheep feeding session we manage to see Red Kite, some displaying Buzzards, a pair of Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk. Add to this Raven and 2 Green Woodpeckers and you wonder if anything got fed.

  • 20th January, A gang of Wrens are roosting in an old Swallows nest. From a distance they look like a cupful of ferrero-roche chocolates. A Woodpigeon is wanting to nest above my FebruARYdoor. I can tell this by the dropped sticks and poo that greet me first thing. Aconites and Daffodils join the Snowdrops and Primroses in flower. Great-crested Newt seen on the move. Dean has a pale albino/leucistic Dunnock in his garden, and reports a Little Egret and Grey Heron together below Oak Tree Farm.

  • 17th January, a layer of snow to start does not stop us tree planting at the park. 20+ Yellowhammers are seen off the Brington Road, and 3 Common Gull and 2 Black-headed Gulls are seen on The Long Buckby Rugby Club pitch. Peter has Nuthatch, Yellowhammer and Chaffinch at Grange Farm. Blackbird and Mistle Thrush are reported singing. I hear Song Thrush singing for the first time this season. A female Hornet is an unseasonable record then again these days…anything goes.
  • 16th January, Fieldfares and Redwings, the thrushes that spend the winter with us are starting to move back through. A flock of 250 ish are reported. I sneak into the Bird & photography hide at Cotton End Park and flush a Snipe within 1 second of opening the window flap. I am trying to work out how to see one without disturbing it so I can show someone else with a camera. But to get anywhere near a good view of a Snipe on the ground is now seriously testing my field-craft. Jo sees 2 Red Kites together and David sees a Blackcap in his garden. Blackcap, Tree Sparrow and Reed Bunting are birds that come into the gardens of the village when things change in the countryside. It could weather conditions, food availability, or local population movements, but records of them seem to coincide. 

  • 14th January, Neil reports Goldcrest and Treecreeper from The Banks. Buzzard, Red Kite, Raven and Kestrel also reported. My cold, North facing garden is adorned with two flowering Daffodils. I find Jelly Ear and Yellow Brain fungi, and whilst moving some hay bales a pile of scat from a predator. Something like a Stoat or Polecat. I have a sniff and take a photo. Size-wise they would suggest Polecat. The monotonous ‘see-saw’ or tee-cher’ song of the Great Tit is being heard.
  • 10th January, a work party discussion at CEP is suddenly brought to a halt when almost predictably I wonder away half way through, looking intently upwards. “What’s he got now?” I heard as I watched a female Peregrine Falcon slice the flock of Rooks and Jackdaws in half. The fun doesn’t end there as now we are all looking upwards a Red Kite is seen as well. Talk about Wales on your doorstep!

  • 8th January, just when we thought it might be a bit too mild to attract oddities into the garden, a Reed Bunting is sitting in my neighbours hedge looking expectantly at the feeders. Having asked several regular dog-walkers it appears the Short-eared Owl may have moved on. Snowdrops out on West Street and at The Wharf.

December 2015

31st December, Peter reports Nuthatch, Song Thrush and Chaffinch. Jane reports Kingfisher from Mill Park and 2 Barn Owls together from the West Haddon Road. Fireworks at Midnight. Thanks for all of your support during the last year.

Happy New Year!

  • 29th December, a family walk sees us in the cemetery ‘saying hello’ to past acquaintances. The low sunshine is showing the colours of the flowers and wreaths. The family opts for tea but I walk on down to the stream below Church Farm with a mind to seeing the Owl. At 1400hrs (Just like David said) it suddenly rises out the grass not 50 yards from where I stand. A Short-eared Owl. It is quite large with white underneath and gold, black and grey above, perfect for hiding amongst the dead grass stems. It is not concerned by my presence and floats 4 feet off the ground searching the tussocks. It stalls and hovers and then drops down, wings back, talons forward and within a second reappears with a greyish Vole. It alights on a post and swallows the creature in one move then is off again quartering the meadow. Within five minutes it has caught two more voles (2 Short-tailed Field Voles and 1 Bank Vole in total) and then rests on the top of the hedge. It has bright yellow eyes irises around a piercing black pupil and glares at me down the barrels of my binoculars.

I call Sue Ebbage and she appears with Chris and they photograph the Owl as it carries on hunting the fields. Several people appear, dog-walkers and families out for a ramble, and a good dozen of us watch the bird in action. It seems unconcerned by people and we all get good views without the need for optics.


  • 28th December, David reports ‘the owl’ from below the church. Blackbird and Great Tit are heard singing. My friends tell me there are still Dragonfly records coming in from around the country. I know this mildness is being liked by some, but much of our wildlife actually needs a good period of cold weather as part of their life cycles.


  • 26th December, a leaking water trough in Road Close prompts some slipping and sliding through the mud with tools and buckets. One of the horses wants to help which is of course not very helpful. We hear Nuthatch, and see Woodcock for our efforts.

  • 23rd December, They know it and they are ready for it. The equinox passes and as if by magic a Mistle Thrush starts to sing at Cotton End. I stand and listen for a while and realize how long it has been since I heard the Storm-Cock in song. I get home and am greeted by Starlings singing from the chimney pots.


  • 17th December, Mark reports Red Kite from off the Brington Road, and I see 2 together on the 428. They are quite low and searching the ground for something. If as is said they are mainly scavengers, you would assume they would be seen on the sides of the road more often as dead animals litter the verges of the ‘A’ roads. I see Meadow Pipits and hear Siskins going over at Grange Farm.


  • 14th December, David reports Stoat and Weasel from the Brington Road, and the male Mallards are chasing a female around the roof tops. Add to this flowering Primroses, and singing Starlings, and reports of Wasps, you’d be wondering if winter was just a passing thought.


  • 13th December, there is nearly always a Gull of some sort in the air space above the village during winter. Many Gull species now breed inland in towns and cities and live off human waste. The numbers of gulls and gull species we see around us have changed over the years and you are just as likely to see an Eastern European or Mediterranean species as you are an Atlantic/North Sea one. I see a Herring Gull, the classic seaside Gull and it is high enough to suggest it will be over The Wash by this evening.

  • 12th December, I am discussing horse matters with Jenny at the bottom of The Banks, when a movement catches my eye. It is an obviously small Hedgehog. Richard pops out and suggests it’s been about all day. I scoop it up carefully, wrap it in my old coat, and put in the nail bucket in the back of the truck. I finish my duties and go home releasing the little snuffler into my office. I place some dog food and water just inside the door and remind myself not to trip over it or the hog when I next go in. When in doubt about wildlife rescue I speak to Janet and Sandy Oliver and they start me on the road to finding a place for it to recover/survive. I end up in Weedon and see Jackie at Hedgehog Rescue. She takes it from me and assesses by hand the weight and age. She then sniffs it and deduces it is fit and well and free from fleas. I say goodbye to both, and Thanks Jackie. It is interesting to hear that the UK hedgehog population has decreased by over 90% since the last war. A sad reflection on the state of the environment around us. To be fair late broods of Hedgehogs are less likely to survive the winter and keeping them alive once rescued is particularly difficult and includes not letting them hibernate.

  • 11th December, I am impressed by the bird feeders on the communal green bit in Cook’s Way. Good numbers of House Sparrow, Starling, plus Greenfinch and Pied Wagtail. Thank you whoever you are.

It is a beautiful day and the afternoon sun shines through the stained windows of St Peter and St Paul at Watford as we say goodbye to Joy Evans. I have never seen a church so full and no better reason for it. God bless.

  • 7th December, Barn Owl reported from the ‘owl’ field. Many thanks to the dog walkers that are now reporting back to me. David Green reports a Bat he thinks is Pipistrelle from Ashmore during the afternoon (!) I notice a new flush of Fungi. Warmth and dampness is promoting extra fruiting.
  • 6th December, at Cotton End Park I flush the 1st Common Snipe of the season. They are masters of camouflage, and also sit tight right up to the last second. I am a reasonable observer and would love to see one on the ground, but generally fail to get any other view than the back of the bird as it flies up just in front of me and zigzags away. This is why they are a favoured game bird. Moorhen, Treecreeper and 2 fly-over Cormorant are also seen. Back at the ‘owl’ field in the afternoon and I am amazed at the continuous onslaught of dog walkers around, in and through the field over the period of an hour. I know most of them and end up chatting about owls, fields, farming, wind turbines, democracy, dogs, and of course the unseasonable weather. I didn’t see the Owl. 
  • 1st December, We’re working on Harbidges Lane, and the sound of my drill attracts a queen White-tailed Bumblebee. She hovers for a while before making off over the roof tops. A handful of small finches turn out to be Siskin. Their yellowness and white wing-bars against a conifer help with the identification. The Short-eared Owl is reported again from behind St Lawrences. I report it to the county bird recorder and the news goes onto the ‘latest reports’ page on northantsbirds.com.


November 2015

  • 31st November, Carol and Alan Webb ring me with a report of a Short-eared Owl near the village and I manage to find them and the owl before dark sets in. I cannot find any records for this species in the parish so I suggest it’s a first for Buckby! At present the only other site for this species in the county is near Maidwell. I must have a count up and see what the parish bird list now is. I put a list together 10 years ago for The Wildlife of Long Buckby, and will soon do an update (Time, Family, Work, LBGS permitting) Three owl species within a week! Good stuff.

  • 24th November, Peter, Jennifer and Angela see a Barn Owl off the West Haddon Road, and a villager reports a flock of 7 Greenfinches on feeders in her garden. Fly over Chaffinch and Meadow Pipit reported.
  • 22nd November, 2 Cormorant, a Raven and a Little Owl noted at Cotton End Park. At the A5 junction I see a Peregrine heading into the parish perhaps for a spot of Jackdaw bashing.
  • 20th November, I attempt some hedge work and am amazed at how many Blackbirds are generally about. I see at least 8 together along with Redwing and Song Thrush. The ‘phone rings and I stand upright in time to see a duck-shaped bird coming towards me from the south-east. I grab my ‘bins and see it is a fine male Goosander. Dark head, white body with a pink tinge to the breast enlivened by low winter sun. As I stand talking a Common Gull goes over as does a Kestrel. Thanks to Brian for the call.

  • 19th November, working on West Street and a huge queen Bumblebee which looked like a White-tailed, lands on my bright yellow electricians steps. It doesn’t take her long to discover they are fibre-glass and not a huge Daffodil. I hear and then see a Green Sandpiper flying over. I have often seen them at this end of the village and this is thanks to Bridge House Farm. The sandpipers love the shores of the lake at Murcott and the slurry ponds on the farm.
  • 16th November, Raven, Sparrowhawk, and queen Hornet reported, and find a juvenile Green Shield-bug whilst gardening (ok I was just standing in the garden eating a sandwich at lunchtime)
  • 15th November, Terry Laney rings me having found a Painted Lady on the lawn in his garden. This is rather late record and could suggest an attempt at hibernation which for this species is virtually unheard of. The books say that the entire population that migrates here each summer dies out to be replaced by new migrants next summer.

  • 10th November, David reports watching a Sparrowhawk flushing birds from the hedge at the Recreation Ground, and I find a strange bug which turns out to be Dock-leaf Shield-bug. Richard reports (and sends a photo of) a female Emperor Moth. Black-headed Gulls reported from the playing fields.
  • 4th November, at Hanglands a Comma and 2 Common Darters are what’s left of the summer and Siskin and Redpoll are now there representing winter. I pick and eventually eat a handful of Field Blewits. Candle-snuff and Shaggy Parasol are also found.

  • 1st November, a sunny morning at Cotton End Park. We see a pair of Kestrel, Coal Tits, Goldcrests, and noticed that there were a lot of birds taking sunflower seeds from the heads in the Cubs Garden. A particular Coal tit returns every 2 minutes and takes a seed. This is happening for a least half an hour and it may have been at it all morning. Talking about seed dispersal, someone had picked the Medlar and Quince fruits, so good luck with producing something edible! And we see 2 Peacock and 1 Large White butterflies. The Peacock are on the sheep shed and eventually one goes in. I find it later with 3 others up in the rafters.

October 2015

  • 31st October, at Grange Farm, Angela and I prepare Evan Almighty for this trip to Cotton End Park and the Community flock. He bows his head as I grip his massive horns and the raddle with coloured wax block is strapped on (I must tell about my stag night sometime) He is old for a Ram but is still keen and hopefully Betty and the gang will be receptive. Chaffinches and Yellowhammers feed around us in the pens and the autumn sun shows the golds and reds of Birches and Maples in the plantation.
  • 30th October, Tom and Joe find a Smooth Newt whilst hanging out. I thank them for letting me know and think it’s a shame the old fashioned respect for the young is fast dying out. A Pipit flies over and utters a call that I think is more like Rock/Water Pipit. Usually we have a general passing of Meadow pipits this time of year. I will get the CDs out later and have a listen..
  • 29th October, awoken by singing Woodpigeon, though it’s cooing is a bit half-hearted. 2/3 Blackbirds chase each other around the Yew which is putting out berries well this year. Allison reports a Smooth Newt on her front door step.
  • 27th October, a lunchtime foray to Hanglands and the weak sun is strong enough for what is probably the last Common Darter dragonfly to venture out. The Sloes are even more apparent on the Blackthorn now that much of the leafage has gone. I add picking them to my ‘to do’ list. A pair of Ravens drift over the village and I can track their progress by the calls they exchange on route. Whilst I’m listening I realize that somewhere there is a Skylark singing hard, fast, and high.
  • 25th October, the mildness sees a small flock of Starlings in the air over The Banks, fly-catching in a similar way they do in mid-summer when the ants hatch. There are now noisy Black-headed Gulls venturing into the village. They are always either arguing amongst themselves or with the Jackdaws and Magpies that also hang about on the roof tops.
  • 24th October, the mice have arrived in many villagers properties and as an electrician I am often called to deal with the consequences of them nibbling at cables within the floors and ceilings. They can without apparent injury to themselves, strip the insulation from a live cable leaving it dangerously bare ready to zap the hand of a foraging tradesman, sometimes many years afterwards. They do however often come to grief inside fuse-boards as they clamber from live busbar to earthing terminal, and I’ve had to peel off many a charred and smelly carcase to restore power. Just in case you were wondering, the record for the number of dead mice in a fuse-board is held not surprisingly by a local grain store, where 6 creatures had been electrocuted over a period of a few weeks. The sweet smell of cooking mouse had prompted the search.
  • 20th October, a Large White butterfly battles the breeze near West Street, and a huge queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee staggers by looking for somewhere to hibernate. I already have a Small Tortoiseshell asleep in the corner of the ceiling in my office. The ever-present Cellar Spiders have already surrounded it and I have the urge to get the feather duster out and see them off. Jay reported from Brington Road.

  • 15th October, Terry Laney reports second hand, a Hummingbird Hawk-moth from Parkfield. 30+ Redwings, 2 Fieldfares and 30 Siskin over High Street.  30odd Golden Plover over Ashmore/Lodge Lane are also a sign of autumn.  
  • 12th October, Red Admiral and a Hornet on Ivy flowers. Lots of other Hover and Drone fly types also. It occurs to me that I actually have no idea what most of the insects that I see every year are. I tend to be drawn to the more obvious identifiable wildlife, those that perhaps have an English name as opposed to just a scientific one. Better for this diary as well. Redwings, in from Scandinavia, cross the parish heading South-west, in the dead of night. Eline sends a photo of Red Underwing moth that she saw on Spencer Road. Alan Webb sends a photo of a Woodlouse Spider (Dysdera crocata) which is a bit of a rarity - See below. It is strikingly red, and has massive fangs, which must compromise the armoured plates of the louse in a mini-beast battle as gory as any Tiger kill.

  • 9th October, at Grange Farm I see female Brimstone and Large White butterflies together which is good for comparison. There is also Speckled Wood about and on the ponds at Hanglands there are still 2 Southern Hawkers and 6 Common Darters. Unusually there are 3 or 4 Tree Sparrows there and as I’m about to leave I hear the tacking call of a warbler. I search and find a particularly pale, sandy looking Lesser Whitethroat. These birds are normally a set of ‘greys’ but this bird lacks this. I start wondering about whether it is an eastern/Eurasian form.

  • 8th October, at CEP, a windless and perfectly lovely morning prompts an Ash Tree to suddenly drop a huge branch full of leaves and keys into the sheep paddock. No sheep were harmed and they all thought it was manner from heaven. ‘Betty’ crunching a mouthful of Ash keys is enough to make any man salivate. Red Admiral, Robin, Green Woodpecker, and 2 species of fungi I think were Parrot and Blackening Waxcap, also there. Donna and I find 2 male Roesels Bush-crickets reeling away in the grass on the side of the Orchard slope. Patience and good hearing is the key to pinning them down.

  • 7th October, 10 Skylarks in Tebbits Over, and a lone House Martin near the A428.

  • 6th October, Coal Tits and Goldcrests seem to be everywhere. There are also Grey Wagtails in and around the village alongside the usual Pied. I am busy on small jobs around the village but have a bit of a purple patch and see Peregrine over High Street then a Grey Plover go over Holyoake, then a Redwing, my 1st of the winter migrants, over Armley. Such fun.

  • 4th October, I am at the Walden’s and we hear 2 Frogs calling from their pond. Skylarks are going over and Jay is heard. Jo sends me a picture of Vapourer Moth caterpillar and Mike sends me a shot of Speckled Bush-cricket.
September 2015
  • 29th September, Thanks to Allison for the Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar photos, to Lindsay for the Southern Hawker, to Angela for the Brimstone Moth (below), and of course Sue for the good stuff!
  • 28th September, I have the honour of working in St Lawrence’s and take the rare opportunity to ascend the tower, passing the bells, and onto the roof. It is great to get a new perspective on the village, picking out houses and buildings, and looking down on the panicking Jackdaws whose domain has been entered. The feeling of age and the passing of time is strong within this building, and it sets me in awe of the men who constructed it. I have had 7 apprentices in the last 30 years as an electrician, and I get great satisfaction from educating them and watching them grow into competent tradesmen. We have done several jobs in this church over the decades, and in doing so I get to present an extra aspect of their education whilst we work, by setting our place amongst the hundreds of working men that over the centuries have toiled here. We discuss respect for them and their work, we talk of worthiness and of being part of, and adding to the history of the place.
  • 27th September, Comma and Small Tortoiseshell are joined by 1 Red Admiral and a Large White on my neighbours Butterfly Bush. The blood moon is full and shows me small Bats over its face as I return from the OKH quiz.

  • 24th September, the Swallows are heading south hard and low, contouring the land over Ashmore and Brington Road, and into Whilton parish. Above me the sky has now a regular passing of ‘pippiting’ Meadow Pipits, Grey wagtails, Siskins, Skylarks and Redpoll. There are 2 Jays at Cotton End Park, and the Brownies see Bats as they head up from the picnic area. My neighbour Jason gives me 3 brace of Woodpigeon and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth record. Thanks mate. The village gardens are filling with incoming Goldcrests and Coal Tits, but other birds are lacking as I get two separate reports of the lack of garden birds ‘in recent months’.  I find an Oak Bush-cricket in Billy’s Bedroom.
  • 23rd September, a Hobby takes a House Martin right in front of me on Holyoake Terrace. It is under the wires, at bedroom window height, as it powers up the road. It then launches out over Towns End with a dozen angry Martins in hot pursuit.
  • 10th September, Field Blewitt and Horse Mushroom are reported. A stand of Weeping Widow comes up in next-doors garden. Everything is always in next-doors garden, rarely mine, now, now calm down it’s only a mushroom. I find myself looking at them through the fence with binoculars which I realize is just plain weird. Anyway the ‘weeping’ comes from the black ‘tears’, containing the spores, that run down the stem, once open. There are 15 Buzzards, and a Red Kite soaring in a funnel shaped vortex over Deadmoor. It is a sight more common to Gibraltar than Buckby, but there is some kind of meeting going on and I’m not sure if these are all local or not. After five minutes they seem to break of a funnel South-west, as they do 3 Cormorants follow.    
  • 9th September, I am now quite convinced that the Redstart in Angela’ Field (Road Close, you know, next to Sabins) is the same individual that I first saw on the 21st August. An incredible but no unusual length of stay for a passage migrant. A, it’s a young bird driven only by a genetic disposition to ‘go south’, and B, the weather has been unfavourable for migrants heading that way, and C, that really is a lovely bit of hedge to call home for a couple of weeks. I see a live Hedgehog in the village, in daylight. Is that good or bad?

  • 6th September, Meadow Pipits, Grey Wagtail, and Siskins go over in handfuls. Not surprizing then when I see an adult Female Sparrowhawk and her youngster soaring together over Lodge Lane. The adult is smooth and efficient in the air and rides the breeze, spiralling upwards. The youth is uncertain and twitchy, spilling air from its wings and descending. It flaps hard and struggles to get to mum. It whines for sympathy but she carries on. The impetus to learn, to hunt, to feed, and survive the oncoming winter.

At Hanglands there is enough sun to keep the 2 male Southern Hawkers patrolling their patch of the big pond. They clash now and then, the wings clattering and sparkling. Speckled Wood and a male Brimstone are now the only Butterflies, but there are young Linnets and Goldfinch on the Teasel heads where once there were Bumblebees..

  • 6th September, The Reverend reports Hummingbird Hawk-moth from his garden, and I see a Stoat cross a gateway to Sabins (the last field on the right as you leave the parish on the back road to Haddon) and see again the Redstart there. It is a youngster and sits upright on the lush hedge leading up towards Grange Farm. The resident Robin is still displeased with its presence and ticks and clicks to shoo it off, but the northerner ignores the southern softie.   
  • 5th September, CEP has Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests, and Long-tailed and Coal Tits in a roving flock. The uncut Thistles in the wildlife area have a good 60plus Goldfinches, dancing, hovering and generally partying. Tufts and swirls of down float between the flashes of red and gold, the show of colour and movement is accompanied by metallic jingling, rasping, and chattering, as they bicker and gossip.
  •  5th September, An evening walk takes me along what use to be Les Hales’ horse fields. Les was the old village milkman and his horse-drawn delivery service was a feature well into the ‘80’s. The three paddocks along the back of Berryfield, Lime Avenue, and Stenhouse Close were grazing and hay meadows for his horses. They have always had an exceptional list of wildlife from Fungi, and flowers, masses of insects, Butterflies, including a rare one. And the hedges are full of birds. They have been repeatedly threatened with development and it seems just now that the environment is so far down the list that this might actually happen. I ponder this as I see a Redstart in one of the hedges, and 2 Grey Partridge, 20+ Yellowhammer, 15 Chaffinch, 30 Tree Sparrows, and 30 Goldfinches along its hedge-line with Armley and Springe Hill. I would like to think that there was some recognition and consideration of the value to us of our green surroundings, and life within it. And when I say ours, I mean ours, i.e us, the people who live in, use and appreciate it.
  • 4th September, 60 linnets seen off the Brington Road. 12 Grey Partridge off the West Haddon Road and Trevor sees 2 Jays. Angela disturbs a Wheatear whilst Shepherding. 2 Bats are reported from King Street.
  • 3rd September, Lucinda has a huge Lavender bush in her front garden and we see Large White, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood amongst the Bees. On the way back from a social, Angela and I see a Barn Owl just in view of the village.

  • 1st September, ah the sun. Mr Holly Blue is still hunting for a mate, and Yellow Wagtail flying over is good. My wife finds a plate sized Horse Mushroom in the Pit Field. There is always the risk of maggots and sheep, or fox urine, but all seams well and it’s fried up for supper. The young Redstart is still in the paddock by the bridge, and is joined by 2 Marsh Tits. Jay reported.

August 2015

  • 31st August, classic bank holiday weather defeats our ‘Picnic-in-the-Park’ plans at Cotton End Park. It is that wet that I see a Frog sheltering the corner of the information shelter, and then once home a Toad is waiting for me on the front door mat. Rain, Rain and more Rain. In the garden I see a pale yellow bird that for a moment has me stumped. I then hear it call and decide it is a Canary. Anyone lost a Canary?
  • 29th August, at Hanglands I see 5 Southern Hawker, 3 are territorial males. There are 20 plus Common Darter, and a lone male Emerald Damsel. Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and the last of the Gatekeepers are joined by a Common Blue butterfly. The Water Mint is in flower and is humming with Hoverflies. Brian reports Green Shield-bug, and a female Oak Bush-cricket. A Red Kite is reported.
  • 21st August, a wave of evening sun inspires me to open the back gate and walk away. I am rewarded by another Redstart, 3 Grey Partridge, 1 Green Woodpecker, 4 Ravens, and a Yellow Wagtail. Speckled Wood and Small Copper butterflies are atop the Ragwort, and again I feast on Blackberries. As I watch the Redstart flicking in and out of the hedge I notice a raven drift in and land on a nearby Pylon. It starts to call, a rough, deep ‘rark, rark, rark’. And to my amazement the farm dog at Foxhills replies with three ‘woofs’. The Raven then calls again, and the dog replies. This goes on for five minutes and gets quite annoying, although I am smiling to myself.
  • 20th August, we open the barn door and see a well patterned moth sitting on the frame. Again the phone-photo, again the books and hey presto, Copper Underwing. At Bridge House Farm, a Hobby is in attack mode amongst the Martins, and a Willow Warbler calls from the hedge. Above strings of Gulls pass over, mainly Lesser Black-backed. I stumble around Armley and am amazed at the transformation. All the crops are gone, and as far as the eye can see, stubble and bales are all that remain. I feast on Blackberries. Are there now five massive wind turbines on our horizon courtesy of Fred and Jenny Frost? Sic transit gloria mundi. 

  • 16th August, our morning work party at Cotton End Park is all out mowing. I take a break  to check on the water troughs and see the tell-tale red flash of a Redstart’s tale. A fine male fly-catches from the sheep paddock hedge and Donna, David and Adam can’t resist a look through my binoculars. At lunch I sit by a Lavender bush. The Bumblebees are in good numbers so I spent several minutes getting phone-photos of the different ones. At home I spend ages trawling through, deleting the majority, but come up with, Buff-tailed, Red-tailed, Garden, and Common Carder. I also see an unfamiliar beetle and again after a bit of research find it’s Rosemary Leaf Beetle. This shiny, little purple and green striped jewel has only been in the UK since the 1990’s. Some websites say it should be squashed at first sight others are more forgiving. Red Kite over.
  • 15th August, at Hanglands again and it’s time for the cutting of the wild-flower area. I usually wait until most of the flowers have gone over but there are still Thistle and Knapweed in hues of purple. The strimmer only just copes with the stems and overheats. During the peace, a family of 4 Whitethroat appear. A pristine juvenile Buzzard sits above me in an Ash and whines pathetically hoping that a parent come and feed him. I hear Grey Partridge and a family of Ravens go over in noisy conversation. Peter reports a Spotted Flycatcher and I pop over after work to have a look. No joy but I walk along the footpath to Evans’ Ponds and find female Common Blue butterfly, Goldcrest, Goldfinches and a nice yellowy Willow Warbler. I stand by the stream and notice two tallish plants. They are Himalayan Balsam. I pull them up, fold them in half and put them in my back pocket. I amble back to the truck and there on the fence is a young Redstart! 
  • 12th August, Tommo and his mates camp just outside the village. He reports that just before they turned in they all witnessed the Perseids meteor shower play out. They just happen to be in the right place, looking the right way, at the right time.

  • 10th August, out in the Three Corner field doing a bit of fencing and I am delighted to see a male Common Blue butterfly. Trevor Moore reports a covey of 12 Grey Partridge within which there appeared to be ten juveniles. Brian Laney searches the disturbed earth on the Three Bridges Road and reports Common Fumintory, Field Bindweed, Ribwort Plantain, Prickly Sow-thistle, Red, and White Dead-nettle, Chickweed, Fat-hen, Field Speedwell, Black Nightshade, Curled Dock, Yarrow, White Campion, and Scentless Mayweed, to name but a few.

  • 9th August, a flurry of Brimstone records is interesting, and I see two myself in the space of an hour, and Holly Blues seem to be in good numbers, I see six together and there are several reports as well. At Hanglands, a male Southern Hawker is on patrol and a female Brown Hawker is egg-laying. 3 Grey Herons over the village and again Raven. Mark Jelley sends me a photo of what he has surmised is Field Cuckoo Bumblebee. I have a look and also show it to my friend Jeff and we tend to agree. A walk around the Old Kings Head car-park to look at the Buddleia, and Billy and I see Peacock, Red Admiral, Holly Blue and a Pied Hoverfly. Cormorant seen flying over Berryfield.
  • 8th August, back at the park first thing I creep down the right-hand of the park and sit quietly just long enough for the birds to carry on as normal and add me into the scenery. I see the parks first Sedge Warbler, plus Lesser and Common Whitethroats. Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Green, Gold and Chaff-finches, Dunnock, Wren, Stock Dove and Green Woodpecker and decide that the wildlife area as being well worth the months of back-breaking effort. Hobby over the village at 1950hrs. 

  • 7th August, Donna, David and I are mowing in Cotton End Park ready for the ‘Picnic in the Park’ event on the 31st. Donna is using the noisy mower, David the noisy strimmer. I am in peace in the orchard with my old rake. I hear a sound that is familiar to all Englishmen, the sound of a WW2 fighter engine. The Spitfire approaches fairly low, although the park is high in the landscape. These planes normally fly past but no, this one, on entering Buckby air-space suddenly turns and soars upwards. I stop and stare. The plane twists and turns, rolls and dives. The engine roars and gurgles, and I find myself watching an imaginary dog-fight for well over five minutes. As I stand in my shirt sleeves, I find myself leaning on the rake, watching the action-packed spectacle above me. I am then reminded of the old films where you see the farmer labourers watching ‘the few’ in the skies above Kent, exactly 75years ago. The hairs on my neck stand on end, and I thank the pilot for making my day.

  • 3rd August, shepherding at Grange Farm, Angela sees a flock of Canada Geese grazing amongst the ewes. At home at lunch we see Holly Blue, and Lesser Yellow-underwing moth in the garden.

  • 2nd August, orchard scything at CEP and we disturb pristine new Peacock and Small Copper butterflies. A Mallard duck is nervous for her 5 ducklings on the main pond, and a Little Owl starts calling at midday. I am caught out by not being near my pick-up and thus my binoculars as a ‘different’ raptor drifts over. I consider running like hell and missing it anyway, or try to see what I can with naked eyes. It looks like a Honey Buzzard. Broad, bulging wings. Long, slim closed tail. Obvious protruding head, and soaring on completely flat wings. These factors are not present on Common buzzard. Some you win……
  • 1st August, male Beautiful Demoiselle flies past me in the middle of the village.

July 2015

  • 30th July, my birthday but work as usual. In passing, I see Little Grebe (Dabchick) on Lodge Farm Lake, the first time I’ve seen one there. An evening walk along the canal is a Birthday treat (A beer at the New Inn included). We sit on the bench in the little reserve at Lock 8 Pound and watch the Swallows swoop and dip themselves into the water. Some go right in with splash and a mid-air shake, others just skim over and let the tip of their beak plough a small furrow on the still water. The sunshine and blue sky, the water and greenery, the birds and insects… let’s hear it for summer.
  • 29th July, The harvest begins, rape first, and great columns of dust rise from the fields. There is a slight tipping of the balance as some of our summer breeders are getting ready for the trip back to Africa. I still see Swifts, House Martins and the odd Swallow about the village, but there are now Swifts moving through from North of us. There are young birds in noisy gangs in the gardens and hedgerows. Mixed species flocks busy learning to survive with occasional reminders of the fragility of a wild life via a hunting Sparrowhawk or Hobby. Whilst dog-walking, and having seen very little, I bump into a party of young Chaffinches, Yellowhammers, Blackbird, Blue and Great Tits, Dunnock, Chiffchaffs and Whitethroat, all foraging and feeding in their own way but together. The fascinating thing is that even though they are different species they must learn each other’s calls, as when I approached the Blue Tit emitted an alarm call and all the others reacted and went for cover.

At Hanglands after work and I see a ‘brand new’ Southern Hawker Dragonfly hanging from its larval case (Exuvie) it must have only just emerged from the water, and was still forming its abdomen and wings. Two years in a dark cold pond and now it’s only a few minutes away from its first flight into the summer air. There are several fresh Comma, Peacock, and Small Tortoiseshell amongst the washed out Meadow Browns and Ringlets. I see Small skipper and then try and remember how to tell Essex Skipper from Small Skipper...

  • 26th July, having seen Yellow Shell and Large Yellow Under-wing Moths, I am tempted to construct a Moth ‘trap’. A UV light in a box which attracts Moths at night so they can be identified. The trouble is of the 4 married mates that I know that got ’into’ Moths, only one is still married. It is a very unsocial pastime unless you can get your spouse into it, which the last one did. I think it’s too risky.

  • 22nd July, I am tiling the bathroom. One of those jobs you think you can do but get half way through and realize you shouldn’t have even started. Are well press on (literally) I can hear the Swifts outside, whizzing around over Armley in a ‘screaming party’. I look out of the window and watch about 15 shoot past and then see a Bat in the air below them. It is later than I think and to prove it a Small Emerald moth flutters through and lands on my new shiny tiles.   

  • 20th July, I always relish a call from Alan Webb, ‘Our man at the wharf’. He is mowing his lawn and sees a Bumblebee just sitting there. He stops and goes to move it and finds ‘it’ is a mating pair. How relatively common are Bumblebees, but how often is mating actually witnessed? Dave Goulson, Professor of Biological Sciences and founder of The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, mentions the rareness of seeing this in his book ‘A sting in the tail’. A fantastic read in many ways, and amazingly for such a common family of insects, the fact that we know so little about them.

  • 19th July, Daniel Tabor and I see dozens of Butterflies of 14 species, including Painted Lady, Comma, Green-veined White, and Small Copper, on the Thistles at CEP. I know that Thistles are not popular with farmers or gardeners, but they are number one when it comes to feeding Butterflies. We have at least 3 species of Thistle at the park, Creeping, Spear and Marsh, and all were covered in feeding insects.  At home unloading the truck and I hear Siskins going over. I check the now full water butts and find a huge dark moth roosting nearby. It is Old lady and would only just fit in the palm of your hand. I use the rain water to top up my small garden pond, and as I tip the bucket in a very small pin-like thing moves away from the splash. It is a tiny stick insect called a Water Measurer.

  • 18th July, Tommo and I are busy fencing. The rain showers are not really softening the ground as much as we’d hoped, and the load ring of the post basher as it slams home on the top the post tells us there is not much downward movement. Sweat and Horse flies are the order of the day, but a passing male Common Blue Butterfly is a treat, and a Southern Hawker hunting flies around the Thistles was a lesson in survival for the Butterflies and Bees. I see Yellowhammer carrying food and guest they must be on the second or third broods.
  • 12th July, Terry sees Stoat, Common Darter, and Gatekeeper along the Brington Road.

  • 11th July, a family walk along the Grand Union is always rewarded by a nice cuppa at Whilton Marina. I see Banded Demoiselle, and White-legged Damselfly both in very low numbers compared to previous years. We note singing Greenfinch and at least 2 pairs of Grey Wagtails, which are very confiding. Elsewhere, Brian sees Hedgehog in South Close, and Peter Clifton reports Hummingbird Hawk-moth, Red Kite and a Green Woodpecker all from his home in the centre of the village. Carry Hart reports Kingfisher and Red Kite from Murcott Mill.

  • 10th July, Red Kite records coming in on an almost daily basis, Daniel, Angela and Brian are amongst the observers today. Six-spotted Burnet, Small Skipper, and painted Lady are found at CEP. 2 Siskin fly over Salem, and Cassie reports a male Broad-bodied Chaser and Bats from Brington Road. Peter reports Hummingbird Hawk-moth from Grange Farm, and Sue Ebbage sends me some great photos.

  • 5th July, Painted Lady seen. Brian reports Elephant Hawk-moth and Scarlet Tiger Moths, plus his neighbours sees Hummingbird Hawk-moth.

  • 4th July, super thunder storms over-night do not deter me from visiting Hanglands. My little reserve (just over an acre) has been a place of refuge for me as well as the local flora and fauna. It is about 10years old now and there is always something to see. 3 Four-spotted Chasers, 1 emergent Southern Hawker, 1 emergent Common Darter, 1 Male Beautiful Demoiselle represented the Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies), Large White, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Speckled wood, Large Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, and Peacock caterpillars, the Butterflies. Cinnabar, Burnet and Shell Moths were also about. I have used the experiences gained creating Hanglands to help create Cotton End Park. The ponds there are 4 years old and I visit in the afternoon and see Emperor, Broad-bodied Chaser and Black-tailed Skimmer, Dragonfly species that like newer water bodies.

  • 2nd July, mending hedges between the co-op fields and the allotments, we see lots of Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Large Skipper. There is the odd patch of Thistle about and the Butterflies love them. I stand and watch the Bees, Hoverflies and Butterflies jostle for position on the purple heads and then up pops a Marbled White.
  • 1st July, amazing heat today. 6 Marbled Whites at A5 junction surviving on the verges. Red Kite over Market Place and the sight of a Brown Hawker dragonfly wondering up West Street was odd. Cassie reports Bats, Hare and Hedgehog. I find 1 Bee Orchid in flower in an area where we had double figures last year.

June 2015

A big thanks to the contributors to this page including the photographers. I have included some photos this time that have been previously unavailable or will relate to recent records. So included is a male Ring Ouzel by Liz Peachy (which we saw in April). Scarlet Tiger (moth) by Emily O’Hagan, a young Grass Snake and a Morrel mushroom by Lily Walden, a fledgling Blue Tit by Tony Peploe, and a mating pair of Privet Hawk-moths via Sam Tank. Sam also took the Hummingbird Hawk-moth. I include a Speckled Wood butterfly, a Common Spotted Orchid, Beautiful Demoiselle, and the purple and gold moth mentioned last month which I thought was Pyrausta Purpuralis but now think It’s P. Aurata, although I not sure who cares. Also thanks to Stuart Barrow for the photo of the Blackbirds nest and nestlings in the engine of his horse trailer, and my son Thomas for the one of me gripping the Grass Snake, and David Walden for the Mullein caterpillar.

  • 29th June, feeling hot,hot,hot. Red Kite low over St Lawrence’s. 4 Marbled White butterflies on the A5 junction are the only ones I know about this year. Yellow Wagtail on a fence post on the West Haddon Road is a positive sighting as we discussed earlier in the year about how they are all but gone. An after-work walk was highlighted by 6 species of butterfly, a Hornet, 3 male Beautiful Demoiselles, an immature White-legged Damselfly, a lone Bee Orchid, a newly ‘hatched’ Common Darter dragonfly, and a Common Emerald moth. 
  • 25th June, Checking the park prior to The Guides arrival I see the first Ringlet butterfly plus double figures of Meadow Brown. David sends me a photo of a black, white and yellow caterpillar which we decide is Mullein moth. Sam tank sends me a photo of a Hummingbird Hawk-moth, one of 2 that turned up in her fabulous garden. She has had more records of this pretty migrant moth over the years than most other places which reflects the location of her garden as well as her skill as a gardener and observer.
  • 24th June, Joy Evans reports a male Orange-tip from Oak Tree Farm and a pair of Red-legged Partridge are reported. I see a Cinnabar moth. Donna sees a pair of Moorhen with 4 chicks at Cotton End Park. Tree Bumblebees are causing concerns for several villagers again this year. This Bee has moved from mainland Europe into the UK in the last decade or so and is happy to nest in Bird-boxes, Lofts, chimneys, brickwork and porches. There is a chap on The Banks who works away a lot and he came home recently to find they were nesting under his bath via a slightly open bathroom window. To his credit he has let the Bees to continue and presumably does the same.