It’s still quite early in the year but three large grass snakes (Natrix natrix) were seen recently at Stanley Ferry Flash. These snakes must have emerged from hibernation recently.
Grass snakes often live in marshy places or near lakes and ponds, where they hunt for amphibians. They lay eggs amongst rotting vegetation, where the heat produced by the decomposition of the vegetation keeps the eggs warm. They may, therefore, sometimes make use of compost heaps for egg-laying.
In addition, the first cowslips (Primula veris) are now flowering at Stanley Ferry.
A visit to Altofts Meadow to check if the curlews were still present, as Pauline had previously reported, reaped rewards with 44 curlew, 66 lapwing, 3 common buzzards in the air together then the highlight of the morning, a pair of peregrine with the female carrying a ‘kill’, both then landed on the flood bank to the RIver Calder. Throughout the morning skylarks were calling over head moving south with numerous groups of woodpigeon moving south high up.
On Sunday 24/8/14 two common redstarts on the re-claimed Parkhill Pit restored area just above Stanley Ferry Flash along with southern hawker. On Monday 25/8/14 in the rain at Birkwood Farm three late swifts over south-east, Two spotted flycatchers and one lesser whitethroat in the area
Stanley Ferry Flash produced some good records, including lime hawk moth on a metal gatepost early in the evening of 16th May while on 23rd grasshopper warbler and cuckoo were present with a peregrine flying over (cathedral bird?) and four noctule bats were seen over the flash at dusk. Northern marsh orchid is in full flower there now.
Lime hawk moth on metal gatepost, Stanley Ferry Flash
northern marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza purpurella)