Wild Monty

May 2009
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31 May I did my BTO Breeding Bird Survey walk today in Montpelier, St Andrews and St Pauls. The highlight was a female Sparrowhawk which dived into some shrubbery in a Chesterfield Avenue front garden - I was just the other side of the road! The hawk was unsuccessful at catching anything but the House Sparrows in the bush were quite understandably panicking noisily. The hawk the perched briefly in a tree before heading off. The full count of birds seen and heard is as follows:
 
Sparrowhawk 1            

Lesser Black-backed Gull 8

Herring Gull 4

Woodpigeon 13

Collared Dove 5

Swift 3

Wren 11

Robin 2

Blackbird 21

Blackcap 2

Blue Tit 8

Great Tit 4

Magpie 5

Carrion Crow 6

Starling 2

House Sparrow 16

Chaffinch 2

Greenfinch 5

Goldfinch 4

Feral Pigeon 24

 
 

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30 May Some more moths in the flat last night - a Common Pug, a Garden Carpet and this rather nice Light Emerald.

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Young Carrion Crow

29 May A lovely warm, sunny morning. At St Pauls Park were a couple of singing Greenfinches, a Chaffinch, a Dunnock and a young Carrion Crow obviously not long out of the nest. Near the churchyard at Portland Square were some fungi which I cannot identify as yet.
 
Last night in the flat I caught a Figure of 80 moth, so-called because of the white mark on its wing.

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Figure of 80 moth

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Fungus species

28 May In the park this morning, a Jay caused a Wren to complain noisily - obviously it had come too close to its nest. The Jay flew off after a while. About 10 pigeons flew purposely in a tight pack overhead - presumably they were racing pigeons.
 
At the station was a Magpie, a Collared Dove and a Great Tit, with 2 Swifts overhead.
 
27 May Despite the soggy conditions, a Blackcap was singing at the station this morning. Also at the station were at least 6 Blackbirds and a couple of singing Robins. A Blue Tit was feeding along the guttering of the  station building but I wondered if there was a nest nearby - will keep an eye out for one.
 
A reader has emailed me to say that he saw a cat kill a bird (probably a Blackbird) today - it is a depressing fact that so much local wildlife is destroyed by cats and he says that a collar with a bell should be a minimum requirement for all cats. Sad news.
 
25 May I've had an ID for yesterday's spider - it could be one of two closely-related species - either Heliophanus flavipes or H. cupreus. I hope that has satisfied you and that you can now rest easy in your beds!
 
I've been intrigued by the garden Blackbird situation. The male that is now occupying the space outside the window is a different individual than the one that nested a few weeks ago. I can tell this because the original bird had a white tail feather - we'll call him 'Chief'. I was surprised to see Chief appear by my window this evening for the first time in days - he ate some raisins as he used to do but then flew right down the terrace towards Bath Buildings - far further than his normal breeding territory would extend. I can only think that he has been ousted from his territory between broods (assuming he might have had time for a second or even third brood this summer). The new occupant actually perched on the window sill and was therefore partly in the flat today - my cat was sleeping in the room so I hope I can keep them apart!
 
Last night I had three moths in the flat - Brimstone, Bright-line Brown-eye and Shuttle-shaped Dart.   
 

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Brimstone moth

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Shuttle-shaped Dart

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Xanthogramma peddisequum

24 May On another glorious morning, the highlight bird-wise was a Common Buzzard being mobbed by the local Carrion Crows over Fairlawn Road. Also a Blackcap in song there, baby Blue Tits calling from a nest in the roof of a house nearby, and some Long-tailed Tits at the top of Richmond Road.
 
Butterflies were represented by a Large White, a Holly Blue and a Speckled Wood, all along the Railway path. Nearby was a new Hoverfly for the patch - a handsome thing called Xanthogramma peddisequum. There was also a Sawfly (not sure of the species) and an interesting-looking spider I can't identify. The first Thick-kneed Flower Beetle (Oedemera nobilis) of the year also put in an appearance this morning.
 
In Lords Wood near Pensford this afternoon I saw hundreds of Tadpoles and I took a video of them - see below!

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Sawfly

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Heliophanus flavipes or H. cupreus

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Oedemera nobilis

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Painted Lady, Gordano Valley

23 May Despite the warm sunny weather I haven't had time to do many observations recently although yesterday afternoon it was great to see a recently-fledged brood of Long-tailed Tits in the ash tree out the front of the flat, and this evening a Jackdaw flew over.
 
I visted Walton Common and Gordano Valley today, and had lots of good butterflies and moths. This Painted Lady was the first one I've seen for a couple of years!
 
 

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Welsh Poppies

 
21 May Still very quiet bird-wise at the station this morning although plenty of House Sparrow activity between the footbridge and the tunnel. A promising display of Oxeye Daisies starting to show on the disused platform and some nice Welsh Poppies near the footbridge.
 
20 May A Jackdaw flew over the station this morning and a Wren was singing from a prominent perch nearby. Two Collared Doves were chasing each other round near the tunnel and about 10 Swifts screamed overhead. This evening at Sommerville Road there was a party of Long-tailed Tits and a singing Coal Tit near St Andrews Park. A couple of Goldfinches were singing near Thomas Street, St Pauls this evening.
 
At lunchtime three Swallows flew over the River Avon at St Phillips and a Moorhen was also on the river.
 
18 May I had no time to do any observations this morning, although a Sparrowhawk drifted over Armada Place, Kingsdown, heading towards Nine Tree Hill/Stokes Croft at 10.15am.
 
17 May The highlight of the latest monthly bird walk in St Andrews Park this morning was watching a Blue Tit entering and leaving one of the nestboxes we erected in the autumn. The birds seen or heard were as follows:

Blue Tit - three or four birds seen and heard, including the nestbox occupier
Great Tit
Coal Tit - one heard singing in a pine tree
Blackbird - several seen including one gathering food
Starling - good numbers feeding on the grassy areas
Woodpigeon
Collared Dove including one doing a display flight
Carrion Crow
Jay
- seen in a birch tree after most of us had dispersed
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Swift
- a screaming party of at least half a dozen birds
Greenfinch - one giving great views near the pond
Chaffinch - several birds seen and heard
Goldfinch - one heard briefly near the pond
Robin
Wren

In addition, 2 Mistle Thrushes were feeding on the grass shortly before the walk.

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Mystery Micro-moth

16 May A blustery and showery day so not easy conditions to watch wildlife! The highlight today was a Mistle Thrush at St Andrews Park at around 3.30pm. It was calling in one of the large pine trees and later flew across the park. This bird is not at all common these days and it might be nesting perhaps. In the garden I was amazed to see the pair of Blue Tits still visiting the nest in the gable of a neighbour's garage - I'd assumed the young would have flown by now.
 
Another micro-moth in the kitchen today might be easy to identify as it has clear spots on it - I will try and get an ID for it.

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Marmalade Hoverfly

 
14 May Another dull morning with rain in the afternoon. During the dry spell there were lots of hoverflies around, mostly Episyrphus balteatus, better known as the Marmalade Hoverfly. Lots of Wood Avens in flower at the end of the railway path.
 
In St Andrews Park there was a pair of Greenfinches and 3 Starlings feeding on the ground and a Goldcrest was singing near the pond. 

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Wood Avens

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Starlings

13 May A dull, drizzly and rather uninspiring day. A Carrion Crow is getting braver and coming within a few inches of my window to take bread that I leave out. This morning it approached very warily, doing a 'shimmy' as it sidled up to the window, like a shy bloke down the pub who wants to start a conversation with you. It ate the bread nervously, glancing at the window between beakfuls, then filled its bill with bread presumably to take to young in the nest, leaving in the direction of the park.

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Green-veined White

 
12 May  On Narroways this morning a Grey Heron flew lazily over the hill and there were lots of beetles called Cryptocephalus sericeus on the various yellow flowers - they are an attractive bronze-green insect. Also on  Narroways, the Whitethroat sang briefly and there were a couple of Chiffchaffs singing.
 
In Montpelier, a Green-veined White butterfly was at the railway path and a 7-Spot Ladybird was sunning itself at the top of Station Road.
 
 

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Cryptocephalus sericeus

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7-Spot Ladybird

10 May I did an annual Breeding Bird Survey around the Totterdown and St Phillips area this morning, and the highlight was a Sand Martin feeding over Avon Street, so this species might be nesting in the area again. Also along the River Avon there were plenty of Mallards, 4 Moorhens, a singing Reed Warbler and 3 Whitethroats. In Arnos Vale cemetery there was a Bullfinch and a Green Woodpecker. Lots of Swifts around which was good to see.
 

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White-lipped Snail

9 May A feature of today was the good numbers of Swifts around - when I focussed my binoculars on the telecom tower near the station at lunchtime I could see 8 or 9 birds hawking for insects, and the screaming calls of these wonderful birds could be heard throughout the day. A Chaffinch has been singing most of the day from TV aerials in Richmond and St Andrews Road.
 
At Fairlawn Road this morning there was an attractive colour-form of the White-lipped Snail - these snails vary between plain creamy individuals to banded specimens. 
 
  
8 May In Montpelier Park at 8.50am (after the rain had cleared), a Blackcap was singing vigorously and a Robin was carrying a faecal sac which means it must have young in the nest. A Carrion Crow picked up a small polythene bag and flew to some trees with it (no doubt to refurbish its nest) while a Wren chose an exposed branch of a recently pollarded tree to sing loudly. Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were on the roof next to the park.
 
This afternoon a Goldfinch was singing at Portland Square.
 
 
7 May I've been quite busy these last couple of mornings and so have had little chance to make any observations. This morning just before 9 o'clock while waiting for the train, however, there was some lovely birdsong from a Dunnock, a Robin, a couple of Blackbirds, a Wren, a Blue Tit and a Great Tit. A probable Small White butterfly was also at the station.
 
 
5 May Still very quiet, although this evening the male  Blackbird brought a youngster to the roof outside my window and fed it with some raisins - unfortunately I didn't have my camera ready in time to take a photo!

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Probable Brown House Moth

4 May A cool, dull and breezy day did not promise much as far as wildlife was concerned, the only birds of note being a single Swift over Effingham Road and a Sparrowhawk over my flat. There were a couple of Starlings and a singing Goldfinch at Albany Green at lunchtime.
 
Last night I found a micro-moth in the kitchen which is probably a Brown House Moth. Not the most exciting thing in the world....

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Nail Gall on Lime leaf

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Juvenile Robin

3 May There was a Holly Blue butterfly this morning along the railway path, while at the station there were a few Small White and a Large White butterfly.
 
It was lovely to see a couple of juvenile Robins near Fairlawn Road, following their parent around and begging for food. Nearby a Blackcap was singing.
 
In Cotham my attention was attracted by strange growths on some lime leaves - these are Nail Galls, cause by a tiny mite, but apparently they do not harm the tree.
 

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Orange-tip butterfly, Gordano Valley

2 May All rather quiet around the patch today, although young Carrion Crows can be heard calling from the nest near Hurlingham Road.
 
I had a trip out to the Gordano Valley where I saw a good selection of birds. There were good numbers of Orange-tip butterflies, including this one.
 
 

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