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Volucella zonaria

31 Jul A cloudy morning giving way to a sunny afternoon. A Speckled Wood butterfly and a couple of Large Whites were at the railway path/Fairlawn Road area, and my fave hoverfly, Volucella zonaria was on a buddleia nearby. A Chiffchaff was calling as well. 

At the station a Goldfinch, Greenfinch and House Sparrow were on the same dead tree and a Blue Tit was nearby. A Holly Blue butterfly was in the garden this afternoon.

No Swifts! (photo courtesy Terry)

30 Jul Terry has notified me that both Swift chicks have fledged - the first at 9.30pm on 28th July and the second at 5.31 yesterday afternoon! Here is a photo to prove it!

This evening there are 2 cats in the garden and a poor Wren is constantly making an alarm call - needless to say the cats are staying put.

28 Jul
Birds were active at the station this morning with half a dozen Greenfinches including a singing male, a Jay, a gaggle of House Sparrows, a calling Chiffchaff, a couple of Blue Tits and 2 (what looked like courting) Woodpigeons.

Chiffchaff (photo courtesy Jim)

26 Jul My trusty correspondents Terry and Jim have been tireless in pursuit of wildlife while I was away. Jim photographed this Chiffchaff in Fairlawn Road and a healthy-looking Fox nearby - fab photos. Jim is also very certain he heard a Grasshopper Warbler. The fact that he also heard a Willow Warbler seems to suggest migration is under way for many of our warblers, and all sorts of odd things turn up in unusual places as a result.

Fox (photo courtesy Jim)
Swift chick with remains of winged insect in the foreground (photo courtesy Terry)

Meanwhile, Terry tells me the Swift chicks are now 5 weeks old and it won't be long before they fly. One chick is shown to have been eating a winged insect, swinging it around in its bill and then leaving the remains in front of it!

Swift chicks (photo courtesy Terry)

A real invasion of flying ants today - there were swarms of them in Richmond Road, and lots of gulls flying high eating them. It was interesting to watch the gulls' flight, almost hovering at times then twisting to catch the ants.  

23 Jul At least 1 Holly Blue in the garden this lunchtime, and a flock of 8 Greenfinches flew over the flat. Three Herring Gulls came down to feed on bread I put out this morning. A couple of Coal Tits were calling in St Andrews Park.

This is the last update until Monday as I'm away at Womad this weekend.

Willow Beauty

22 Jul At the station this morning I heard what sounded like a  Willow Warbler - sadly it only called briefly so I couldn't eliminate Chiffchaff. Either way, it indicates that autumn migration may be under way! Also at the station were a couple of Greenfinches, a fly over Goldfinch, a Blue Tit and a few Swifts overhead.

Last night in the kitchen was a very bedraggled Willow Beauty moth, the first this year.

20 Jul Some welcome bird activity this morning with a mixed flock of Blue Tits, Great Tits and at least 1 Coal Tit at the top of Station Road and a Jay, a showy Wren, a couple of Blackbirds, a Robin and 2 or 3 Collared Doves at the station.

White-spotted Pug

19 Jul A brilliant night with the moths last night, including my first ever White-spotted Pug. Also caught were 4 Dark Arches, 1 Lesser Yellow Underwing, a Shuttle-shaped Dart, a Flame, a Swallow-tailed Moth, a Silver Y, a Heart and Dart, a Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, 2 Marbled Beauties, a Small Magpie and a Riband Wave. Also caught were 5 or 6 Harlequin Ladybirds.

Dark Arches
Shuttle-shaped Dart
Lesser Yellow Underwing

Small Copper

18 Jul A wander around Narroways on a mainly cloudy but humid afternoon produced a splendid Small Copper butterfly, along with a few Meadow Browns, a Ringlet, 9 Common Blues and a Speckled Wood. Lots of Soldier Beetles (we used to call them 'bloodsuckers' when we were kids) and the bumblebees were dominated by Large Red-tailed Bumblebees. Birds included a couple of calling Chiffchaffs, a party of Long-tailed Tits and 8 or 9 House Sparrows.

At St Andrews Park wildlife pond a couple of Azure Damselflies.

Meadow Brown

Soldier Beetle

Possible Volucella inanis

17 Jul An increasingly sunny afternoon provided ideal butterfly conditions. Sightings today:
Holly Blue 2 at railway path, 1 at the station
Ringlet 1 at station
Large White 2-3 each at Fairlawn Road and the station
Speckled Wood 2 at railway path

The first Volucella hoverfly of the year was at the railway path but having originally assumed it was V. zonaria, a rubbishy photo I took suggests possible V. inanis. Both species were seen here last year. A 7-Spot Ladybird was at the station.

Birds today included the young Chiffchaff calling at Fairlawn Road and a couple of Jays there. A House Sparrow visited the garden several times and flew to a nest in the roof of a house in St Andrews Road.

Montpelier Swifts (photo courtesy Terry)

16 Jul Terry rides to the rescue again when I'm short of news! One of the Swift nestlings is now 1 month old, and here's another lovely pic.

In the last couple of days just Dunnock, Wren and Blackbird still in song at the station.

Montpelier Swifts have a lie-in (photo courtesy Terry)

13 Jul Terry says that the adult Swifts stayed in the box this morning because of the rain, and he emailed this latest pic. Although rain can affect feeding, at least it has been reasonably mild with light showers today. If persistant rain and cool temperatures take over, then the birds would suffer.

The only other bird news today is of a Sparrowhawk circling high over Richmond Road this evening. I've had a juvenile Magpie hanging around the garden area in the last few days, so there must have been a nest nearby.


11 Jul Yet another 'first' last night - a Phoenix moth. Also caught were several Riband Waves, a Marbled Green (only my second or third ever), a Heart and Dart, a Flame, a Flame Shoulder,  a Garden Carpet plus lots of micro moths which I couldn't ID - I really must try and concentrate on them a little more in future.

Holly Blue butterflies are showing well - at least 1 in the garden today plus another at the railway path. The only other butterflies were 3 Large Whites at the station.

The juvenile Chiffchaff was calling constantly at the railway path - presumably locally fledged as it is still early for migrant birds to be moving through I would have thought. Best bird today was a Mistle Thrush sat in the dead tree at the station/allotment gardens, sticking around for ten minutes before flying off towards Cromwell Road. Also at the station was a Blackcap giving alarm calls, several Collared Doves and 10 distant Swifts.

Marbled Green
Oedemera nobilis

10 Jul The hot weather brought out a Speckled Wood at the railway path, half a dozen Ringlets at Fairlawn Road and a Holly Blue at Hurlingham Road this morning. Nearby a flower beetle - Oedemera nobilis - was feeding in a Field Bindweed flower. One or two Greenfinches flew over the Fairlawn Road area and I'm pretty sure I heard a young Chiffchaff calling - will investigate. A Coal Tit was calling from the top of St Andrews Road.

The most interesting, nay exciting, discovery was of a squashed beetle on Old Ashley Hill this evening - I'm wondering if it is a Lesser Stag Beetle. It looks big enough, but will take it into my friends at BRERC for confirmation. I've never seen one before so I might be wrong. UPDATE ID confirmed by BRERC.

Lesser Stag Beetle (squashed in case you hadn't noticed)

9 Jul A measure of how warm it was at 8.20 this morning was a Meadow Brown butterfly flitting around the disused platform at the station. A singing Blackcap was nearby.

Had a chance to go and see a mega-rarity at Slimbridge this afternoon - a White-tailed Plover. Not that I'm a twitcher of course....

Swift chicks stretching (photo courtesy Terry)

8 Jul This is cute - the Montpelier Swift chicks are now spreading their wings and looking out of the box!

The Montpelier Swift chicks (courtesy of Terry)

7 Jul Terry has sent me another update on the Cobourg Road Swifts - the chicks are looking good at 19/21 days old! The fledging period is 37 to 56 days, so not too long to wait!

6 Jul A wander round St Pauls Park produced a surprising amount of birdsong considering the lateness of the season, with singing Robin, Dunnock, Woodpigeon, Blackbird and 2 Wrens. A Great Tit was seen feeding in a hedge and a juvenile and 2 adult Blackbirds were feeding on the grass.

What looked like a Large Red-tailed Bumblebee was flying around outside the front door when I got home this evening.

Swallow-tailed Moth

5 July The first Swallow-tailed Moth of the year was in the kitchen last night.


4 Jul At the Better Food Company car park there was a good showing of Lady's Bedstraw, Field Scabious and Yarrow. On the thistles there was what I'm sure was a Leafcutter Bee (possibly Megachile centuncularis) which is a 'first' for the patch and for me! Unfortunately the attempt to photograph it failed. Also in the car park was a Red-tailed Bumblebee, a 7-Spot Ladybird and a hoverfly that might have been a Sphaerophoria species.  

At Fairlawn Road at least 3 Ringlet butterflies were on the wing despite the overcast conditions and some Long-tailed Tits were calling nearby.

Lady's Bedstraw

3 Jul Eight or nine Starlings including a few juveniles flew onto an arial opposite my window this morning and the female garden Blackbird was seen carrying food so there must be another brood somewhere around.

Last night in the kitchen was the first Brimstone moth of the year and a Riband Wave.

Beautiful Golden Y

2 Jul Now if you are bored by my moths, I beg you to just have a look at this splendid creature which flew into the kitchen last night - it's a Beautiful Golden Y, and another 'first' for me. Gorgeous, eh? Also attracted by the kitchen light were one each of White Ermine and Garden Carpet.

Not much happening at the station this morning except for a Starling, a Collared Dove, a Blackbird and the usual House Sparrows.