Nature Blog Network

Butterflies

I'm rubbish at butterflies so my summer project is to learn to recognise the common butterflies in my part of East Lancashire. Butterflies are fairly common around here but I suspect there is a limited number species around.

As the first steps to know the enemy, I sat down with two reference works:

'Britain's butterflies' by Newland and Still pub Wild Guides 2015
'Butterflies and Day-flying Moths of Lancashire pub Lancashire and Cheshire Fauna Society 2019 so bang up to date.

Well the first step is to keep this achievable so we will bin the moths for the time being. Going through these two tomes I have got it down to about 25 with records from my part of East Lancs, so manageable. Here goes:

Hesperiidae
+Small Skipper rough grassland Jun-Aug
*Large Skipper rough grassland Jun-Aug

Pieridae
Orange Tip meadows Apl-Jun, Aug
*Large White open ground Apl-Jun, Aug-Sept
*Small White open ground Mar-Jun, Aug-Sept
*Green-veined White open ground Apl-Jun, Aug-Sept
+Clouded Yellow meadows (clover) May, Aug, Oct
+Brimstone hedges/woodland Feb-May, Aug-Sept

Nymphalidae
+Wall May-Jun, Aug-Sept
Speckled Wood woodland Apl-Sept
+Small Heath grassland May-Jun, Aug-Oct
+Ringlet wood edges Jun-Aug
*Meadow Brown grassland Jun-Jul
Gatekeeper grassland Jul-Aug
Red Admiral buddelias, nettle Mar-Oct
Painted Lady Apl-Jun, Jul-Oct
*Peacock woodland clearings Feb-May, Aug-Sept
*Small Tortoiseshell gardens Feb-Sept
Comma Feb-May, Jun-Jul, Sept

Lycaenidae
Small Copper waste Apl-Jun, Jul-Aug, Sept-Oct
+Purple Hairstreak oak July-Aug
+Green Hairstreak heath/moor May-Jun
+White-letter Hairstreak elms Apl-Aug
+Holly Blue holly Apl-May, Jul-Aug
+Common Blue May-Jun, Jul-Oct

The Lancashire guide helpfully also says which parts of the county the society has received records for. As with all citizen reporting, that may reflect activity of reporters as much as activity of butterflies but it is a good start. Those with an * are described as being particularly common in my area so let's begin with these. + indicates those which have been seen in the area but are more localised.

Just to start off with, a Peacock (c) Magnus Manske under Creative Commons Licence


Peacock Magnus Manske

bird count after tree felling

For a number of reasons this was the first chance I have had to do a count of the birds on the lane since the trees were felled at the end of February. I follow the format of the Great Garden Bird Count in watching for an hour, but extend it to every bird seen from the window, not merely those seen in the garden itself.

starling 12
magpie 6
blackbird 3
woodpigeon 3 courting
robin 2
jackdaw 2
carrion crow 2
chaffinch 1
grey heron 1.

Some changes of note:
no tits - the trees which came down were widely used by the tits and it seems they have moved elsewhere. This may account for their being only one finch also
no dunnock - the field isn't cleared but a lot of the growth which gave cover to the dunnocks has gone. The plans include hedge planting and I hope both that this happens and that the dunnocks return as they are a species whose numbers are declining nationally.
no wren - although the part of the tree in which they nested still remains it may be the felling work disturbed them.

On the positive side - no squirrels have been seen since the trees came down.

The feeders have gone, of course, I hope to replace them with some in the garden when covid nonsense allows.

Grey herons have been seen there before but not for a number of years. I wonder if a neighbour has restocked their fish pond.

Of course this is only a single observation and I plan to keep looking over the forthcoming weeks to see if these changes are sustained or if the missing birds return.

Development of the Paddock

After planning permission was granted for the construction of a bungalow on the Paddock in May 2019, work finally commenced on 28 February 2020 with the felling of some trees and taking of some soundings to assess the depth of roots of other trees on the lane in order to ensure their protection. A sad day.

My feeders have had to come down so bird observations from now on will not be directly comparable with previous ones - the felling of the trees ensures that too. Thankfully there have been a smattering of common garden birds on casual observation over the last few days. I feel particularly sorry for the pair of wrens which nested at the foot of the ivy-covered elm. Let's hope they find somewhere else suitable.

We are looking at alternative places to site the feeders. Hopefully this will be less attractive to squirrels than the previous place so that at least might be a silver lining.

4 Mar 1 640