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Oilseed Rape flower


McPhillip and Felicity Pheasant

Great Spotted woodpecker

Rabbit nibbling grass


1. Meadow Brown


2. Speckled Wood

Female Emperor dragonfly depositing eggs

Song thrush

3. Clay Triple-lines moth

4. Southern Hawker dragonfly

  5. Woody nightshade.  Bittersweet

Nature Observations: Eastcliff(Mules)Park – June 2020

by Catherine Locke

6th of June 2020

Quite sunny today but with large cotton wool clouds drifting from the West. The full

moon last night had been lovely and bright, reflecting on the waters of Shaldon

estuary, which is the view from my window. In the park today I saw a family of

Great tits in a young Holm Oak tree by the park steps. I saw a second family in

woods near the beginning of the Dell Path, with a family of Blue tits in the same

area. I also saw a couple of families of Robins. I heard the hooeet call of a

Chiffchaff, a call they use sometimes when they're not chip-chapping, which is usually

how they can be identified. The tall Oilseed rape plants are in flower and the Wild

Cherry (called 'mazzard' as it is known in Devon) has green cherries that are

beginning to show a blush of red. There are wild irises on the shady banks by the

parks pathways. I saw a pair of Dunnocks singing to each other, and a bit later, a

group of three (or a menage a trois as we would say). Abundant cow parsley in

flower and the flowers of Tutsan, a type of Hypericum. Later, when the flowers drop

away, berries will form, turning from green to red, then finally to black. I heard the

loud erratic song of a Blackcap, and from somewhere in the grounds of Clifton

Hotel the loud and sudden 'chocock' of a male pheasant. Probably McPhillip

calling to his new girlfriend Felicity Pheasant.

In the Dell the pond levels are down due to the recent dry weather in May. On pond

number 2 I saw a pair of mallards. I often see them floating there. The waterfall

above the pond is just a trickle. Red Dead nettle is flowering nearby. I took the

Woodland path that arches over the area above number 4 pond and there I saw a

fledgling Greenfinch sitting on a branch waiting for one of its parents to feed it. I

heard adult male Greenfinches with their 'shwee' calls, and the females with a mixture

of buzzy, shrill and twittering notes. I walked to the Woodpecker Ash, near to the

entrance of the Walled Garden, to check on the Great Spotted woodpecker chicks in a

hole about 20 feet up the trunk. They were taking it in turn to poke their heads out,

the red patch on the crown clearly visible. Only the female parent came to feed them,

several times within a period of 15 minutes.

The sloe berries are coming out now on the Blackthorn bushes that were covered in

snowy blossom a month ago. Some people like to make sloe gin with them. My

mother made some once that was extremely potent with the texture of a liqueur.

There are lots of rabbits by the various bramble warrens. I saw three kits and a doe

nibbling on grass.


13th of June 2020

It's overcast today and looking like it might rain. By late morning, however, when I

was walking to Eastcliff Park the sky was blue, the weather warm, and a cool breeze

wafting across from the sea. Today whilst standing at the top of the park I decided

to sit on a bench shaded by a lovely chestnut tree with Ollie the dog I walk

regularly. I heard a noisy chattering from a family of magpies nearby and I saw a

family of blackbirds in the bushes behind me. I heard the cheerful chip-chapping of a

pair of chiffchaffs. As I walked with Ollie around the edge of Top Meadow I heard

more blackbirds, several blackcaps and numerous wood pigeons. In the meadow

I counted six Meadow Brown butterflies but there would have been many more over

the meadow. The males are a darker brown than the females, and less likely to have

the orange patches on the forewings. Their food plants are various grasses and this

is where they will lay their eggs. The caterpillars are green and furry looking and

25 mm long and will feed on the finer grasses. I heard grasshoppers singing in the

meadow and these would be mainly Meadow grasshoppers, the song of the males

sounding a bit like a sewing machine, and common green grasshoppers who's song

sounds like a hiss lasting 10 to 20 seconds. The latter has wings, the former,

flightless. There were various kinds of hoverfly on the cow parsley flowers.

I heard greenfinches, mostly the 'shwee' sounds of the males and I saw a family of

goldfinches twittering in a sycamore tree near the meadow.

The flowers of the oilseed rape have a sweet and mushy scent, very pleasant.

A Speckled Wood butterfly flew around in a shady area under trees as I walk

down to the Woodpecker Ash. The Woodpecker chicks have now fledged and I'll

miss watching them being fed with their red-crowned heads poking one at a time

from the perfectly round hole in the tree trunk.

There was a cacophony of blackbird song in the Dell, and a family of robins, with

their fledglings calling to be fed. I stood by number 4 pond with it's huge gunnera

leaves at one end keeping an eye out for dragonflies. Suddenly a movement near a

dense area of watercress caught my eye and I was thrilled to see a juvenile grass

snake crossing the pond, so smooth in its movement across the water. This is the

second juvenile grass snake I've seen in the Park this summer, the first being on pond

number 3 a few weeks back. I also saw a male Emperor dragonfly patrolling the

pond. When he got closer to me I could see his lovely turquoise abdomen and

greenish blue thorax. I also saw a few blue damselflies over the pond and hundreds

of gnats.


24th of June 2020

A very hot day with a refreshing sea Breeze. In the park I heard the songs of many

different birds including Goldfinches, Wrens, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Robins, Blue

tits, Goldcrests, Wood pigeons, a Green woodpecker, a Great Spotted woodpecker,

Magpies and a couple of Song thrushes. Hoverflies hovered at eye level along the shady Lower Path leading towards the Dell Path. I caught a glimpse of a medium-sized yellowish orange moth before it disappeared into the woods. It was quite likely to have been a Clay Triple-lines moth, found in woods and parks from May to October. Their food plant is the flowers of the Beech Tree. Instead of going towards the Dell Path I diverted up a bank past wild cherry trees then passed a stand of young Blackthorn bushes where rabbits like to hide. I always hear the loud song of a male blackcap there, or sometimes the sharp 'tack' of his warning call, sounding like two large stones hit

together. I saw a male Southern Hawker dragonfly patrolling his territory over the

bushes there. The path follows an open sunny glade where the rabbits like to feed

when there are no humans about and where I always see butterflies on a hot day.

Today I saw two male Speckled Wood butterflies chasing each other in tight

circles. They are extremely territorial. Abundant Ragwort grows there and it is

beginning to flower now. Later, Cinnabar moths will lay their eggs on it and the

black and yellow caterpillars will gorge on the leaves and flowers. Soldier flies also

mate and lay eggs on the ragwort, an important plant away from livestock. In the

woods beyond, which I call the Two Oak woods because of the two majestic old

English Oaks there, I found the tiny little purple and yellow flowers of Woody

nightshade. The other name for it is Bittersweet and the Latin name is solanum

dulcamara. The red berries that form in late summer are poisonous. There were wild

irises growing under the trees in the leaf litter. They are shade loving plants, the other

common name is Stinking Iris as the leaves give off an unpleasant smell. The orange

berries form in clumps at the top of thick stems in autumn.


Catherine Locke



photo1. URL -

Attribution - Charles J Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

photo 3. URL -

Attribution - Traubenberger, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

photo 4. URL -,_blue_form.jpg

Attribution - Charles J Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

photo 5. URL -

Attribution - Kurt Stüber, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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