Wild Monty

May 2010
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31 May At 6.40am I saw a young Blue Tit bouncing around in the nestbox and poking its head out and by lunchtime all was quiet so presumably the young have flown the nest. Meanwhile, a female Blackbird (distinctively marked with a pale throat) was gathering food outside the window so she definitely has a nest (but beyond the immediate garden area) and finally a male House Sparrow was collecting moss from the sloping roof below my window - a rarity anywhere near the garden.

This morning I did my BTO Breeding Bird Survey in the Montpelier/St Andrews/St Pauls area and counts were as follows: Lesser Black-backed Gull 3, Herring Gull 2, Woodpigeon 12, Collared Dove 3, Swift 1, Wren 8, Dunnock 5, Robin 5, Blackbird 13, Blackcap 1, Chiffchaff 1, Blue Tit 7, Great Tit 1, Magpie 5, Jackdaw 1, Carrion Crow 5, Starling 7, House Sparrow 15, Chaffinch 6, Greenfinch 2, Goldfinch 4, Feral Pigeon 23.

Azure Damselfly, St Andrews Park

30 May In and around the wildlife pond in St Andrews Park this afternoon there were about 20 Azure Damselflies and at least 1 Large Red Damselfly. The nearby meadow area looks interesting with White and Red Campion and Cut-leaved Cranesbill in flower among other blooms. Meanwhile near the tunnel at the station the large patch of Charlock is looking quite attractive, although I see from my copy of Richard Mabey's Food for Free that Geoffrey Grigson called this plant 'a vegetable rat'! The leaves were sold as spinach in Dublin in the eighteenth century although they are apparently very bitter (I didn't eat any!) Also at the station were 2 or 3 Large White butterflies. In Fairlawn Road there was a beetle that looked like Oedemera nobilis, the thick-kneed flower beetle, but I couldn't get a shot of it unfortunately.

Both parent Blue Tits were attending the nest box today and the chicks were sounding vigorous!

One of my Blue Tits

29 May Terry informs me that the Swifts laid a second egg today. The average clutch size is 2-3 eggs so there may be another in a day or so. Meanwhile, Blue Tits are feeding young in my own nestbox, with the parents visiting about once every one or two minutes and the young calling quite loudly from the nest. The garden Blackbirds are a bit of a mystery though - there were no less than 3 males and 1 female occupying the same territory today so presumably there is no nest anywhere near or there would be more conflict between the males? Other bird news today: a Jackdaw flying over Richmond Road and some Long-tailed Tits calling at the station.

28 May I bumped into a Network Rail worker at the station this morning and we chatted about local wildlife - he also treated me to excellent impressions of both male and female Fox and even Eagle Owl - a very talented guy! The only other thing of note at the station was a group of half a dozen Starlings. In the garden plenty of activity this morning from 3 Blue Tits, 2 Great Tits and a female Blackbird.

27 May The hot news is that the Montpelier Swifts laid their first egg today - very exciting - thanks for the update Terry.

Little to report from St Pauls Park this morning - just singing Greenfinch, Wren, Dunnock and Woodpigeon of note.

26 May I haven't had time to do much observing in the last couple of days but I did manage to get to the kitchen last night and there was a Brimstone moth in there.

White Ermine

24 May It was good to hear a Song Thrush singing this evening near the railway path - probably the same bird which can usually be heard in the Ashley Vale area.

Last night I had 2 new moths for the patch in my flat - a White Ermine and a Miller. There was also a Flame Shoulder, a Hebrew Character and a Shuttle-shaped Dart along with several small mirid or flower bugs (I'm hopeless at bugs) and an Orange Ladybird.

Flame Shoulder

23 May Another hot, sunny day. Surprisingly little to report other than the Chiffchaff singing at Fairlawn Road and a couple of Starlings at the station. Lots of Wood Avens now in flower on the patch and Oxeye Daisies blooming at the station.

Adela reaumurella

22 May A warm sunny day. At Fairlawn Road there was a Jay, a couple of singing Blackcaps and a family of Long-tailed Tits. Insect-wise the most unusual sighting was one of the long-horn moths - I'm pretty sure the species being Adela reaumurella. As the family name suggests, the males have incredibly long antennae many times the length of the body. Meanwhile at the station/allotment area there were a couple of Holly Blue butterflies.

Fox (photo by Terry)

21 May  I've had a fascinating email from Monty resident Terry, who says that visitors to his garden include Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Blue Tit, Great Tit, House Sparrows, Robin, Blackbirds, Blackcap,
Magpie, Collared Doves, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine Falcon soaring above a few weeks ago plus Tawny Owls seen and heard in winter 2009/10 and 2008/9. Terry also describes a regular visitor - a Fox - and best of all Swifts in a nestbox for the second year running - see photographs. The Swifts are now entering the box both day and night and Terry assures me he will keep me posted on developments. 

On a more prosaic note, there was a Garden Carpet moth in the flat last night and some Long-tailed Tits were heard calling in the front garden. Away from Monty I was surprised to hear a Goldcrest singing in trees on the traffic island near St Mary Redcliffe!


Swifts in nestbox (photo courtesy Terry)
Swifts in nestbox (photo courtesy Terry)
Garden Carpet
Common Pug
18 May This morning I found a Common Pug moth in the kitchen which must have been attracted to the light last night.

Nothing to report bird-wise other than a couple of Starlings still at the station and 1 or 2 Swifts flying very high and quite far off.

16 May I've had a good look at yesterday's hoverfly and, sticking my neck out, I'd say it is Eupodes luniger. I still haven't sorted the wasp out yet.

This morning's St Andrews Park bird walk produced the usual suspects - the cool, overcast and damp conditions suppressed bird song and activity somewhat. the list is as follows:

Mistle Thrush - 2 or 3 birds seen

Blackbird - several, including a female gathering nesting material

Starling - 2 or 3

Goldcrest - 1 seen near the toilets

Goldfinch - 1 or 2 including a singing bird which showed well

Chaffinch - 3 or 4 birds around the park singing and calling

House Sparrow - heard and seen around adjacent houses

Great Tit - 1 near the toilets

Blue Tit - 1 or 2

Carrion Crow - several including one confiding individual showing melanistic brownish wing feathers

Magpie - 2 or 3

Woodpigeon - several including one near the pond gathering nesting material by pecking at tamarisk branches

Collared Dove - 1 or 2

Dunnock - at least 2

Robin - 2 or 3 singing

Wren - 1 or 2 singing

Lesser Black-backed Gull - a few drifting overhead

This afternoon, a juvenile Blackbird was being fed by its father at the top of Station Road.  

Probable Eupodes luniger hoverfly

15 May At the railway path, the sun brought out some nice butterflies:  2 Holly Blues, 3 Large Whites and a Speckled Wood. Nearby at the community garden at the top of St Andrews Road there was a Large Red Damselfly, a mystery wasp or ichneumon (will try to ID it tomorrow) and another mystery - this time a hoverfly which again I will try and identify.

Bird-wise, 2 Swallows flew over the station, some Long-tailed Tits were near the allotment gardens and a Chiffchaff was at Fairlawn Road.

Mystery wasp
Cornsalad sp.

14 May The birds and insects being quiet on such a cool and cloudy day, I did a bit of botanising on the station and saw a Cornsalad species - either Common or Keel-fruited. Both species are described in The Flora of the Bristol Region as 'uncommon'. I will have to wait for the plant to fruit to determine which species it is. I can't find a reference to this plant in Chris's 'Monty Botany' section so perhaps it's a new species for the patch! Nearby some Hogweed was in flower and there were loads of  bracket fungi on a rotting stump - probably Trametes versicolor.

Prob. Trametes versicolor - a bracket fungus
Fox at the station

12 May A lovely sunny afternoon. At St Andrews Park a Mistle Thrush gave good views at it fed on the grass, and the pond produced at least 1 Large Red Damselfly. Near the pond was a Holly Blue and a Rose Chafer.  

At the station a Fox was basking in the sunshine - a rather mangy specimen I'm afraid - extensive traces of the disease apparent on its haunches. Also at the station was the brood of Long-tailed Tits and a couple of Large White butterflies.

The Holly Blue butterfly was still in the garden today.

Mistle Thrush at St Andrews Park
Large Red Damselfly at St Andrews Park
Rose Chafer at St Andrews Park
Green Shield Bug

11 May Had a good thrash around Narroways this morning and it produced 1 Common Whitethroat, 3 Chiffchaffs, 4 or 5 Blackcaps including 2 males and a female in one tree, 1 Swallow, 5 Swifts, 2 Dunnocks, 1 or 2 Robins, a juvenile Blackbird, a Song Thrush, 4 Mallards, 4 Greenfinches, half a dozen House Sparrows and a couple of Starlings. In the church field there was lots of Bird's Foot Trefoil and the first flowers of the uncommon Narroways speciality Corky-fruited Water-dropwort.

Back in Monty, the most fabulous thing was a family of 4 baby Long-tailed Tits lined up on a branch at the station and being fed by a parent - and yes, you've guessed it, I didn't have my camera with me! Also a Chiffchaff and a couple of Blackcaps at Fairlawn Road plus a Great Tit feeding from mortar in a brick wall at the top of St Andrews Road.

Along Fairlawn Road were a couple of Green Shield Bugs and the afternoon sun brought out a Holly Blue butterfly in the garden.

Corky-fruited Water-dropwort
Juvenile Blackbird

8 May The last few days have been very quiet. The only noteworthy birds today were a Blackcap singing near the garden,  several Goldfinches in St Andrews Park and a couple of Starlings at the station. 
4 May
Very little to report this morning - at St Pauls Park the usual suspects included singing Greenfinches and Goldfinches, Robins and tit species. An intriguing report that Rupert Higgins heard a Wood Warbler singing in St Werburghs recently - an uncommon warbler, although we had one in Monty a few years ago.

Garlic Mustard

3 May I didn't have a chance to spend any time on the patch today, but it was good to see some patches of Garlic Mustard in the community garden area at the top of St Andrews Road. This is one of the food plants of the Orange-tip butterfly. At least 1 Blackcap still singing at Fairlawn Road this morning.

Dock Leaf Bug

1 May This morning there were 2 Speckled Wood butterflies in the garden, spiralling together in the sunshine in what was probably a territorial dispute. Also a Holly Blue in the garden. At Fairlawn Road the first Dock Leaf Bugs of the year were basking in the sunshine.

A garden at the top of St Andrews Road had a fine display of Wild Garlic

A couple of singing Blackcaps were in the Fairlawn Road area from which you could hear Song Thrush song coming from the Ashley Vale area. Long-tailed Tits were calling at Station Road.

Wild Garlic

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