Natural History Diary : June 2019
Saturday 15th June
When the sun came out this afternoon a Red Admiral appeared in the garden again. I spent an hour at Dry Sandford Pit, where I saw my first Marbled White of the year, as well as some Meadow Browns and Common Blues. I aos saw a teneral Keeled Skimmer, two female Southern Damselflies, a Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff and a Whitethroat.
Meadow Brown ♂, Dry Sandford Pit, 15-Jun
Marbled White ♂, Dry Sandford Pit, 15-Jun
Southern Damselfly ♀, Dry Sandford Pit, 15-Jun
Meadow Brown ♂ | Dry Sandford Pit Marbled White ♂ | Dry Sandford Pit Southern Damselfly ♀ | Dry Sandford Pit
Friday 14th June
After four days of appalling weather, a Red Admiral was nectaring on buddleia in the garden this afternoon.
Monday 10th June
While waiting for the bus to leave Redbridge park and ride this morning I saw a Mistle Thrush searching for worms on the grass adjacent to the road.
Sunday 9th June
A better day than the last two - it didn't rain! But there wasn't a lot of sun in the morning. I went to Farmoor. There wasn't anything of note on the reservoirs, except for lots of Greylag Geese. Down at Pinkhill I saw a Meadow Brown, a Common Blue, a Speckled Wood and some Common Blue Damselflies. At the back of Pinkhill I found two pairs of Azure Damselflies in copula, some Blue-tailed Damselflies, Red-eyed Damselflies and Banded Demoiselles. I only saw two dragonflies here: a Four-spotted Chaser and a Hairy Hawker. The usual warblers were present. A bit further along the river past the water inlet I saw a Red Admiral, but it wouldn't come into camera range. Lastly I saw a Cuckoo in the air at Buckthorn Meadow.
Blue-tailed Damselfly ♂, Farmoor, 09-Jun
Banded Demoiselle ♂, Farmoor, 09-Jun
Sedge Warbler, Farmoor, 09-Jun
Blue-tailed Damselfly ♂ | Farmoor Banded Demoiselle ♂ | Farmoor Sedge Warbler | Farmoor
Thursday 6th June
I drove down to Bentley Wood this morning. The weather forecast looked promising, but in the event there was a lot of cloud, and it rained not long after I'd got to the eastern clearing. Butterflies were in pretty short supply - I only spotted seventeen individuals, and seven of those were Common Blues (there never used to be Common Blues in Bentley Wood). However I did see two Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, two Meadow Browns and a Small Tortoiseshell. Birds did somewhat better, with a Tree Pipit being the pick of them. A Mistle Thrush flew over, and I saw three Blackcaps and two Chiffchaffs.
After two hours I went to Stockbridge Down, where it promptly started raining. While eating lunch in the car I watched a party of young Blue Tits foraging in a blackthorn bush. I had a walk round once the rain had stopped, but again there wasn't a great deal about. The most numerous species was Small Heath, with ten seen. I also saw one each of Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper. After 45 minutes I'd had enough (as the weather didn't look like it was going to improve), and returned home. A long journey for not much return, unfortunately.
Common Blue ♂, Bentley Wood, 06-Jun
Meadow Brown ♂, Bentley Wood, 06-Jun
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary ♀, Bentley Wood, 06-Jun
Common Blue ♂ | Bentley Wood Meadow Brown ♂ | Bentley Wood Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary ♀ | Bentley Wood
Monday 3rd June
I took part in a butterfly survey on the MoD land at Otmoor this morning. There was some sun but also a noticeable SW wind, which made it rather cooler than yesterday. Butterflies didn't do all that well. We only recorded nine species, of which Common Blue was the most numerous (11). Small Copper came in second, with six seen. I did see my first Meadow Browns of the year though. The most abundant odonate by far was the Common Blue Damselfly (easily into three figures). I also saw a Hairy Hawker, several Four-spotted Chasers and two Broad-bodied Chasers. I finally heard a Lesser Whitethroat singing. I saw a Yellowhammer and a Nuthatch. In one of the hay meadows was a pair of Curlew, which were visible as they were taller than the vegetation. Both birds took to the air when a Red Kite flew over, and the male chased the kite away. It then returned to the field, giving us some great views.
I then had a walk down the old roman road, which also didn't produce very much. A Comma was about the only species of note. Up on the bridleway I saw a couple of Four-spotted Chasers and a Hairy Hawker. I finally heard what may be the only Turtle Dove on Otmoor, and found it sitting in an Oak tree. I heard at least two Cuckoos. Two Stock Doves landed on the path on Greenaways. On the way back to the car I saw a mature male Broad-bodied Chaser.
Although the cloud was increasing, I drove over to Whitecross Green Wood and walked down to the pond. Again butterflies were in short supply, but I eventually spotted what I'd come for: a Black Hairstreak. I saw a second one a bit later. They were not very active because there wasn't much sun by mid-afternoon. There were lots of Common Blue Damselflies here too. I also saw a male Beautiful Demoiselle, five Banded Demoiselles, two Four-spotted Chasers and a Hairy Hawker (strangely, there were no Emperor Dragonflies about). A Sparrowhawk was the only bird of note, other than the usual warblers.
Common Blue ♂, Otmoor, 03-Jun
Small Copper ♂, Otmoor, 03-Jun
Burnet Companion, Otmoor, 03-Jun
Common Blue ♂ | Otmoor Small Copper ♂ | Otmoor Burnet Companion | Otmoor
Four-spotted Chaser ♂, Otmoor, 03-Jun
Comma, Otmoor, 03-Jun
Turtle Dove, Otmoor, 03-Jun
Four-spotted Chaser ♂ | Otmoor Comma | Otmoor Turtle Dove | Otmoor
Sunday 2nd June
Rather cloudy this morning but it was warm and humid. I had a search for insects between Barton Fields and Orchard Lake. On entering Barton Fields I heard a Cuckoo and saw a male Orange-tip, a Speckled Wood and a Green Nettle Weevil. I saw my first Blue-tailed Damselflies of the year between the ponds. Near the river I saw a Blackcap, Sedge Warbler and two Chiffchaffs, and heard a Cetti's Warbler. At the fishing pond I saw a Downy Emerald, several Red-eyed Damselflies and Banded Demoiselles and a Cetti's. Along the bank of the Thames I saw about a dozen Banded Demoiselles. In the field I saw a Large Skipper, Brown Argus and Small Copper. There were loads of Common Blue Damselflies around Orchard Lake. There was also a rufescens form of the female Blue-tailed Damselfly. There were at least half-a-dozen Black-tailed Skimmers near the lake, including one pair in cop. At the eastern end I saw about four Four-spotted Chasers (which, unusually, were not interested in perching) and ten Red-eyed Damselflies. I also saw a Hornet, a Red Admiral, two rather tired Peacocks and another Large Skipper.
Green Nettle Weevil, Abingdon, 02-Jun
Blue-tailed Damselfly imm. ♂, Abingdon, 02-Jun
Blue-tailed Damselfly imm. ♀, Radley Lakes, 02-Jun
Green Nettle Weevil | Abingdon Blue-tailed Damselfly ♂ | Abingdon Blue-tailed Damselfly ♀ | Radley Lakes
Common Blue Damselfly ♂, Radley Lakes, 02-Jun
Red-eyed Damselfly ♂, Abingdon, 02-Jun
Large Skipper ♂, Radley Lakes, 02-Jun
Common Blue Damselfly ♂ | Radley Lakes Red-eyed Damselfly ♂ | Radley Lakes Large Skipper ♂ | Radley Lakes
Saturday 1st June
I visited Bucknell Wood this morning. When I got there at 10am the temperature was already 20 °C. The wood was very dry. The first butterfly I came across was a fresh-looking Speckled Wood. My target species was the Wood White. These soon started to appear; as usual they were relentless in their search for females, only occasionally stopping for nectar. I logged 46 in 90 minutes, a slightly higher rate than last year. Other species seen were Common Blue, Orange-tip, Brinstone, Small Copper and Holly Blue. I found a teneral Emperor Dragonfly and four teneral Broad-bodied Chasers. Warblers were still singing: I heard Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Garden Warbler. A Raven flew over.
Wood White ♂, Bucknell Wood, 01-Jun
Emperor Dragonfly imm. ♂, Bucknell Wood, 01-Jun
Broad-bodied Chaser imm. ♂, Bucknell Wood, 01-Jun
Wood White ♂ | Bucknell Wood Emperor Dragonfly ♂ | Bucknell Wood Broad-bodied Chaser ♂ | Bucknell Wood
I retraced my steps and went to Ardley Quarry. This was aso dry; all standing water had disappeared. It took a while to find anything of note, but eventually I had ten species, including my first Large Skipper of the year, two Grizzled Skippers and two Green Hairstreaks. I was surprised to see at least six fresh-looking male Brimstones - is this an early summer brood resulting from the mild weather in February? Moths seen were Mother Shipton, Cinnabar, Lesser Treble-bar and Common Heath. I was also surprised to find a teneral male Black-tailed Skimmer on the railway embankment, and there was a female Banded Demoiselle near the bridge. Birds seen were Jay, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat.
Large Skipper ♂, Ardley Quarry, 01-Jun
Black-tailed Skimmer imm. ♂, Ardley Quarry, 01-Jun
Lesser Treble-bar, Ardley Quarry, 01-Jun
Large Skipper ♂ | Ardley Quarry Black-tailed Skimmer ♂ | Ardley Quarry Lesser Treble-bar | Ardley Quarry