Thursday, 16 June 2011

A Quiet Patch

Small Tortoiseshell

Large Skipper

16th June. Although thinking that the wagon-way area of the patch would be entering its quiet faze now I still decided to take a walk along that way. I took a slight diversion before joining the wagon-way proper and found numbers of Swallow, House Martins and Swifts flying, at times very low over the fields. Skylarks were in the air too. It often seems that every bit of spare ground in North Tyneside is quickly gobbled up for housing and commercial use but it is still possible to look from the high ground and have a practically uninterrupted view down to St Mary’s Lighthouse and the sea beyond. I wasn’t the only one taking in this view today as a cyclist stopped to take photographs.

Once back on to the wagon-way I didn’t see too much to excite bird-wise although did eventually pass two Common Whitethroat territories, having good sightings of the birds. The odd Chiffchaff was heard. Further along the pathway a Yellowhammer was heard briefly and more Skylarks were in the air. Linnets were the only other birds of real note.

I did find six species of butterfly today, but not in large numbers. The first and most common was the Small White. Next came a Small Heath in the taller grassy area where I also found at least four Meadow Browns. Three Small Tortoiseshell (I was able to take a good look at the under-wings of one of them) were seen as well as one Red Admiral and two Large Skipper. The Large Skippers were found in almost the exact same spot as I had found them last year. Quiet, but never uninteresting!

One of the points I learnt at the butterfly conservation talk on Tuesday was that it is no longer thought that the invasion from Europe of the parasitic fly Sturnia bella is having a major effect on Small Tortoiseshell numbers. Whilst there has been a massive decline in this butterfly's numbers over recent years, numbers have gone up recently. Personally I couldn't help wonder if the warm periods experienced over the past two years was the reason for the increase and that perhaps the insects effects were just somewhat hidden. I suppose time will tell.

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