It’s a wonder that we’ve got any newts left! I didn’t see her catch it but by the time I got my camera she’d finished despatching it. My 40 second movie has a soundtrack of me cursing as she flies to the centre of the lawn and I chase around to the kitchen to get a better view, but at least I caught a frame of her before she disappeared into the hedge.
Colin brought an owl pellet to the field meeting at Rabbit Ings which I have since dissected and examined the contents. The pellet is from a tawny owl and was found in the garden of a house near Wakefield town centre. It contained a complete rat skull but this did not remain in one piece when the pellet was soaked in water for dissection.
On Saturday 16 May this female blackbird caught five smooth newts in our garden pond. She either waits in the centre of the pond, perching on the blanket of duckweed, or stalks along the edge. As soon as she catches one she takes it to a grassy spot or to the raised bed behind the pond and dispatches it then eats it herself. We’ve never seen her taking one away to feed her young. We had already spotted her doing this a few times during the week but now that she’s become so adept I’ve now raked away the duckweed to give the newts a chance of survival.
Despite blustery, cold conditions more reminiscent of November than early May, we had a good walk around Rabbit Ings, Royston. This was the first visit we have made to this site as a group and, given warmer conditions, I think we would have notched up a few more species than we did. It was remarkable that we managed any butterflies at all! Here is a list of what we saw, compiled by Sue Gaynor.
creeping buttercup, common vetch, salad burnet, ribwort plantain, red campion, broom, birds-foot trefoil, black medick, greater stitchwort, comfrey, green alkanet, celery-leaved buttercup, forget-me-not, common mouse-ear, charlock, common field speedwell, sheep sorrel, hairy tare
wren, blackcap, whitethroat, reed bunting, redshank (flying over), common swift, kestrel, cuckoo (1 calling), great tit, skylark, willow warbler, sand martin (1)
dingy skipper (1), small copper (2)
sloe bug (hairy shield bug)
Richard Bell created this excellent short video of our walk and it will certainly give you a feel for the wind we encountered!
This year, the first orange tip was in the garden on 18 April. In 2014 it was 15 April, in 2010 27 April. Previously they usually appear in early May. One was in the garden again on 22 April, and a pair on 4 May.
The old nature reserve around the top lake at Bretton is always a beautiful place to visit at this time of year. There are swathes of bluebells and greater stitchwort interspersed with yellow archangel and red campion giving a most attractive mix of colours. The footpath edges are lined with unobtrusive wood speedwell, occasional bush vetch and the last of the common dog violets. There are many other species to be seen in the damp water edges – bright yellow kingcups are probably the most obvious. I thought the bird life was rather sparser than I remembered and the chilly wind meant we saw only one butterfly – a green veined white. The lovely picture was taken by Barbara Murray.
Francis was sent this fabulous footage of a peregrine stirring up trouble amongst the starlings at Pugneys and Cawoods earlier in the year. The murmuration is superb to say the least!