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Grass snake

Grass snake

photo 1  Hornet Hoverfly

Painted Lady

Gatekeeper buttlerfly



Wood Pidgeon

Azure damselflies


Nature Observations: Eastcliff(Mules)Park – July 2019

by Catherine Locke

Saturday 13 July

I had a most exciting encounter just above Mules Park on Eastcliff Walk which is part of the South West Coast Path. I was coming down the path towards the old swing gate and farm gate combination. It was very hot that day and I was the only one on the path. Suddenly ahead of me, a snake was writhing across the path from the grass verge to the hedgerow on the other side. I walked quicker to get a better look. It was an adult grass snake around one and a half feet long, very green, with dark patches along its sides. I watched it in wonder and excitement as it pushed its way into the dense hedgerow. Although it had disappeared I could still hear it there as it pushed its way through. I think that it is the first time I've seen a whole, wild grass snake as usually it's just the end of one disappearing into grass or bushes. A rare encounter but great to know they are around.


Thursday 18 July

I was in the Rowdens, seeing what wildlife I could encounter in the tangle of rhododendron and bramble bushes that form a kind of island there. I observed a very large hoverfly with two bold black stripes against a bright yellow abdomen, a

yellow face and black thorax with orange edges to its wings when it landed. When

flying it buzzed loudly and was attacked by smaller hoverflies. Looking it up I think

it was a Volucella zonaria species, sometimes called the Hornet Hoverfly. I also saw, on the brambles in The Rowdens, a lovely large bright orange fritillary butterfly. Looking it up a believe it was a rare High Brown Fritillary. On another section of brambles, not far from the old croquet lawn, I saw a Gatekeeper Butterfly, and abundant Meadow Brown butterflies in the park, especially in the top meadow. I've seen one marbled white, quite a few Small and Large Whites, Speckled Woods in shaded areas, Holly Blues mostly in May and June but occasional now.

Birds I've seen recently are

Goldfinch    abundant

Greenfinch    abundant

Bullfinch    several families

Blackbird    very abundant

Robin    very abundant

Dunnock    mostly in hedgerow on Eastcliff Walk

House sparrow    abundant in hedgerows

Blue tit    many families in the park

Great tit    several families

Goldcrest    several families

Coal tit    two families

Long-tailed tit    several family flocks

Chiffchaff    a few calling birds

Blackcap    at least four families in the park

Wood pigeons    abundant to very abundant

Magpies    at least six family groups

Crows    at least six family groups

Jays    several family groups

Great Spotted woodpecker    Two families

Wren    abundant in the park (lovely warbling from the males)

Willow warbler    Heard its 'hoo-eat' call on a few occasions, but I've only seen them skulking through bushes along the shaded, woody parts of Eastcliff Walk - lower end.


Wasps abound now. Bumble bees are not as common as they should be.
Honey bees are mainly on bramble flowers at the moment but also on the flowers in the large bed near the top pond in the Dell that has been planted by The Friends.
A lot of Azure damselflies around the ponds.

Wildflowers about now:

agrimony, hemp agrimony, wood avens, red campion, red and white clover (in the meadows), cow parsley, charlock, self-heal, purple loosestrife, many kinds of thistle in flower, ragwort (great foodplant for the cinnabar moth); I've also seen abundant soldier flies mating on ragwort plants. Yarrow, green alkanet, field bindweed, hedge bindweed, red valerian, scarlet pimpernel, hedge parsley, hedge mustard, tree mallow, tutsan/St John's wort, cut-leaved cranesbill, herb robert, meadow buttercup, creeping buttercup, field daisy, dandelion.

A lot of beech mast* on the beeches at the top of the Rowdens. I have been hearing families of grey squirrels munching on the seeds and dropping the husks on me as I walked along Upper Beech Walk above the old croquet lawn in the Rowdens.

Catherine Locke


'Masting' refers to a natural phenomenon where exceptional amounts of forest tree fruit are produced, such as acorns and nuts

Photo credits

photo 1   Author - Alvesgaspar [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

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