Speckled Wood butterfly
Nature Observations: Eastcliff(Mules)Park – August 2020
by Catherine Locke
12th of August 2020
A very hot day. By the park steps I found a yellow puffy fungus with brown at the edges of the caps growing out of the fallen needles of the Monterey pines. I looked it up later and found it was Fuzzy polypore. The large irregular caps are soft and spongy when young. When it matures the fungi dries to a dark red-brown then black with paler edges. It Grows from the roots of conifers. Abundant wasps are about now. A burdock plant was growing near Lower path, it's large cloud-like leaves spreading from the base. I saw a family of Coal tits in a conifer tree. Wood pigeons calling, Wrens whirring, Robins singing, and a family of Willow Warblers making "hoo-eet" call's to each other. Fleabane is flowering throughout the park, looking like little sunflowers. Along Overdell Path I crunched on abundant knapper galls that had fallen from the great English Oak tree. These knobbly sticky galls form on the acorns and a tiny wasp develops within them.
I saw a Jay further along the path which flew into the trees when it saw me and Ollie the dog. A family of grey squirrels scolded us from above so we moved on so as not to irritate them further.
The leaves are falling early as the weather has been hot and dry. I can see Great tits, Blue tits, a family of Nuthatches, several Speckled Wood butterflies blending in with the dappled shade on leaves when they settled. I found flowering watermint by the path beyond Overdell, which inclines upwards and passed the sloping meadow. I chewed a few mint leaves which are good for settling the stomach. A Gatekeeper butterfly landed on the mint flowers, it's wings chocolate brown with orange centres and a black eye spot on each forewing. It is similar to the Meadow Brown but has orange on both forewings and hindwings. Later I saw two more of them, again on mint flowers. Robins are beginning to make that titting territorial sound.
Herbrobert is flowering near the Walled Garden and there are bright berries of wild Arum. Also the tiny pink flowers of Hoary Willowherb, only 2 mm wide, 4 petalled and each petal with two little ears, with leaves long thin and hairy. I heard Goldcrests in Larch trees by The Rowdens Edge path, and I looked for them but they were well hidden in the copse. A few years ago a Goldcrest chick fluttered down as I stood in the glade and landed at my feet. The sweet little bird looked up at giant me then fluttered back to its family in the tree above. Magical moments like that are remembered forever.
26th of August 2020
A mix of sunshine and cloud. The recent strong winds have dropped. Lots of Great tits in the park today, at least 4 families seen in different areas. The Fuzzy polypore fungus by the park steps was now a dark cocoa Brown with yellow ochre at the edges. I heard, then saw goldcrests in one of the Monterey Pines. The song is a quiet version of the great tits teacher teacher teacher followed by a little quickly executed flourish. It took me awhile to put song to bird but now I'm familiar with it. Their call when contacting each other in the same area is a high thin CCC and when you hear it you know it has come from a small bird, in this case the smallest bird in Europe. The tree Mallow by the park steps are flowering once more in the warm mild weather. There are a lot of birds about today, mostly heard due to them being hidden by foliage. Abundant robins and wood pigeons, several pairs of blackbirds, Dunnocks calling with a single note, often followed by a double note, from bushes, four separate Magpie families, a Wren, a Coaltit, and a Blue tit. I saw feeding parties of grey squirrels eating Sycamore seeds mainly, crunching on the husks then dropping them to the ground. I say wasps everywhere, 2 Meadow browns and two white butterflies. The sloes are ripe for picking, but I don't make sloe gin myself so I'll leave them to the birds. I have made a rosehip and elderberry syrup this year and in early summer elderflower cordial. I use blackberries in crumble and to make apple and blackberry jam. Most of the elderberries this year got taken by birds before I could get to them. Do they know it's going to be a hard winter perhaps?