Magpie moth Abraxas grossulariata
Jersey Tiger moth
Knopper Gall on acorn
female Emperor dragonfly
Green Bottle Fly
Long Tailed Tit
Painted Lady butterfly
Painted Lady butterfly
Comma Polygonia c-album
Green Shield bug - Palomena prasina
Green Sheild bug, autumn colour
Nature Observations: Eastcliff(Mules)Park – August 2019
by Catherine Locke
August is the month when birds are hiding away as they go through the moult, so it is handy to know their songs and calls if you want to know what’s about. On the 1st of August I stopped on ‘Lower Path’ in Mules Park to chat to a partially sighted man about wildlife. As we were talking, a Red Admiral butterfly landed on the man's arm much to his delight. I also pointed out a Speckled Wood butterfly, in perfect condition, on a bright green new sycamore leaf. The Red Admiral flew from the man's arm to the back of Ollie, the dog I walk regularly. Ollie moved away wondering what the tickle was and off it flew.
Grey squirrel families can be heard munching loudly on sycamore seeds and discarding the seed cases which fall all about me as I look up into the tree. The park felt fresh and happy after recent rain. Cobnuts are falling, unripe, from the hazel trees. Squirrels eat them that way so that you don't often find ripe nuts from hazel.
At the beginning of August, I noticed that there were still Greenfinches about but by the end of the month I couldn't hear or see any. I think they've moved further inland to find food, unlike the Goldfinches which are now very common in the park.
I’ve seen flocks of twenty to thirty Goldfinches as they twitter in group flight from one side of the park meadows to the other. When they’re in the trees they are hard to spot in spite of their cherry red faces and bright yellow wing bars.
I noticed a few different galls on the English, or pedunculate oaks in the park. Brown marble galls I previously called oak apples until I found out that the oak apple is a different gall that looks rosy, like an apple, and has a rougher surface. I've seen and walked on hundreds of knopper galls, these are knobbly and sticky to the touch. I've also seen Robin's Pincushion galls on oak branches although it is most common on wild roses. In each gall a single egg is laid by a gall wasp of which there are over 90 species in Britain, 42 of them inducing galls on oak trees.
I often hear, in August, the growling coos of breeding Wood Pigeons sitting on hidden nests, often in the ivy that surrounds a tree trunk. Many Wood Pigeons nest in autumn and some nest as early as April. They lay two eggs and can have one or two broods a year.
Always, when I pass a certain garden fence in the Dell, I hear the whistling snore of a male Bullfinch in a tree just by the fence at the edge of a garden. I’ve seen the whole Bullfinch family on pagoda feeders, high up in a garden nearby. I’ve seen another family of Bullfinches in the trees of the Overdell Path. The male is always so shiny with his reddish orange breast, black face and cap on a robust head (which the female also has) and bright white area under the tale. They eat buds, flowers seeds, berries, and shoots.
On the fence, near to where I hear the male Bullfinch, a grey squirrel which I've named ‘Fence Runner’ likes to tease dogs by running along the top of the fence noisily then leaping into a nearby tree. I've seen frenzied dogs barking and trying to reach it, but the squirrel is having fun knowing the dogs can't get to it.
Over the ponds, I've seen Common Blue damselflies, sometimes in mating pairs, Common Darter dragonflies (seen often away from the ponds too), Emperor dragonflies patrolling the top pond, and Southern Hawker dragonflies which often patrol territories away from the water. On 12th August, I saw a damselfly on the leaf by Overdell Path. I didn't recognise the species but noted down its appearance and looked it up at home. It was a male Variable damselfly, mostly turquoise but with thin black stripes on the thorax, thicker black stripes along the abdomen, and a black tip to the end of the abdomen. 32 35-mm, flies May to August, breeds in still water i.e. ponds.
Abundant Green Bottle flies, shining a lovely mechanic greenish in the sun.
18th of August
I was lucky to see, briefly, a female sparrowhawk with something in her talons as she flew towards trees at Rowdens Edge Path. She landed somewhere within the dense foliage so I couldn't locate her. I do often find feathers of wood pigeons along the path which are the main prey of the female sparrowhawk but she had something smaller like a young squirrel in her talons.
Berries of Wild Arum, bright reddish orange in clusters on bright green stalks in woodlands. So many berries around in August on Hawthorn, Rowan, Viburnum, Blackthorn (sloes), Bramble (blackberries), Spindle, Black Bryony, Holly, Tutsan (related to St Johns Wort, berries go from red to black in the centre of the yellow flowers).
A great day for seeing insects of all kinds in the park, it was a sunny and very warm.
The Hemp Agrimony was in full flower, in a sunny spot by the Dell Path, and on it I noted hoverflies of all kinds, including seven of the very large hornet hoverfly, Jersey Tiger moths, Bumblebees, Solitary bees and Honey bees a small white butterfly and a shining green oval-bodied leaf beetle.
Also on the 11th I saw four Common Builder flies, a lot of Small White (butterflies), a Large White, a Small Tortoiseshell, fourteen Common Blues in the meadows, six Painted Ladies, seven Meadow Browns, four Red Admirals, and two male Emperor dragonflies seen patrolling the top pond in The Dell.
Butterflies seen in August in Mules Park
Small White common
Large White uncommon
Painted Lady common this year from Morocco
Red Admiral common late August into September
Speckled Wood common
Common Blue uncommon
Small Tortoiseshell uncommon
Meadow Brown common
Marbled White I saw just one in the park in August
Holly Blue quite common
High Brown Fritillary rare just one seen in the Rowdens on bramble flowers
Moths seen in Mules Park in August
Jersey Tiger moth, particularly common this year, from the end of July onwards
Silver Y,( Autographa Gamma) moth, common day flying species
Hummingbird hawk-moth, I've seen three, together on flowers of hemp agrimony at the beginning of Dell path
Straw Dot moth, common meadow species, food plant various grasses
A lot of common green grasshoppers heard (sometimes seen) in top meadow in late August. craneflies or daddy long legs seen in the meadows some mating
Unusual insects and spiders
A hunting spider and a smaller one next to it, perhaps a male and female of the species Pisasaura Mirabilia
A pale brown shield bug sized insect with violin shaped body and curved antennae, species: Syromeistes Rhombus
Green shield bugs seen near the top meadow. Feed on deciduous shrubs and tall herbs, they turn bronze in autumn.
Birds in August
Robin (very abundant)
Blackbird (very abundant)
Magpie (very abundant)
Crow (very abundant)
Jay (common but secretive)
Wood pigeon (very abundant and conspicuous)
Blue tit (abundant)
Great tit (abundant)
Long-tailed tit (abundant)
Coal tit (quite common)
Greenfinch (abundant in early August)
Chaffinch (rare in park)
Blackcap (quite common)
Song thrush (uncommon)
Mistle thrush (rarely seen)
Tree creeper (rarely seen)
Great Spotted woodpecker (uncommon)
Willow warbler (uncommon)
Buzzard (quite common)
Housemartins (abundant when insects are swarming over the park)
Swift, all gone back to Africa by early August