photo 2 Cranefly Nephrotoma Crocata
Photo 3 Common Blue damselfly
Photo 4 Ivy Bee
Common Bird's-foot Trefoil
photo5 Speckled Wood
photo 7 Grasshopper
Painted Lady butterfly
Hypericum androsaemum - Tutsan
Photo 1 Sloes
Photo 8 Black-tailed Skimmer
Nature Observations: Eastcliff(Mules)Park – September 2019
by Catherine Locke
Saw an unusual cranefly on a nettle leaf by the lower path, going down towards the Dell. It had a long thin, shiny black body with bright yellow abdominal stripes (x3) and a yellow face. It was a ephrotoma Crocata, 15 to 20mm likes damp conditions.
I saw male Common Darter dragonflies settling on the path. I've read that they do often settle far from water. Likes still water; flies June to October. I've seen lots of them over the ponds this summer with Common Blue damselflies. A lot of goldfinches about in family groups and, towards the end of September, in large twittering flocks. A lot of grey squirrel families munching on sycamore seeds up in the trees, in leaf litter under the trees, and burying acorns to be dug up during the winter.
Still a lot of Small White butterflies (Pieris Rapae) at the beginning of September but, by the end of September, that been replaced by the Red Admirals taking the nectar from autumn-flowering ivy. So many insects rely on this late availability of nectar.
I've seen hoards of wasps, flies and butterflies on these vital areas of ivy flowers. To us, ivy is considered an intrusive pest to be removed, but to wildlife it is a boon, providing shelter, berries and flowers.
Loads of honey bees also on the Michaelmas Daisy flowers that have been planted by the Friends of Eastcliff volunteers near No 4 pond (the top pond) in The Dell.
Abundant shiny Greenbottle flies looking like little green jewels in the early autumn sunshine. Woodpigeons are feeding juvenile youngsters which are as big as they are. The juvenile puts an open wing around its parent which feeds it by regurgitating food from its crop directly into the open beak. Often there is another juvenile waiting its turn on the same branch.
In early September there were still a few Painted Lady butterflies about. This has been a good year for the travelling Ladies; some of them have come all the way from Morocco and Southern Europe to feed on nectar from Buddleia, Hemp Agrimony etc. By October they will be gone.
Some Common Blue butterflies over the meadows of the park. They feed especially on Birdsfoot Trefoil and can fly as late as October but, by the end of September, I didn't see any at Eastcliff. The Speckled Wood has a long flying period, from April to October. I see them especially along the lower path by the woods and in The Dell where they feed mainly on honeydew in the treetops. Grasshoppers singing in the meadow areas. I've seen Common Green, Meadow and
On the 11th September I saw a pretty Small Tortoiseshell butterfly in the large flower bed near No 4 pond (the top pond) in The Dell. I've seen very few of these late summer butterflies this year which is a shame as they are lovely butterflies.
The Importance of Autumn Mowing
A lot of craneflies about in the top meadow, especially where the Knapweed flowers have gone over. I am glad to see that the meadows have been left this year, as insects like craneflies, grasshoppers and late butterflies rely on them for food. Last year the
top meadow was mowed in mid-August and, just a few days before, I'd seen Common Blue and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies on the meadows plus grasshoppers, spiders etc. Autumn mowing is so much more beneficial to wildlife.
Birds in Eastcliff Park in September
Long-tailed tit (abundant), congregating in large extended family flocks now
Blue tit (abundant)
Great tit (abundant)
Coal tit (common)
Goldcrest (quite common)
Bullfinch (quite common)
Blackcap (quite common)
Chiffchaff, only occasional remainers in September, they mostly have flown, possibly
Willow warbler (uncommon), saw a pair in willow near the walled Garden on 19th
Jay (common, especially at this time of year), in family groups having territorial
spats with magpies or bringing acorns for winter supplies,
Great spotted woodpecker (uncommon)
Raven (uncommon), I hear the occasional pair croaking from high over the park
and I know that one pair nests in the Cedar Tree at the top of footpath number 5,
which runs along by the park.
Tree creeper (common)
Grey squirrel (abundant) I have seen so many families in September in the park, either eating tree seeds or bringing items for their winter supplies.
Rabbit (abundant), at this time of year I've only seen the family groups on sunny or mild days close to their bramble brake warrens.
Badger (quite common). I often see their poo about. It is black and usually has berry stones within it.
Red fox (quite common), have seen their poo about. Dark brown pellets with a twist of each end and often fur within it, from rabbits mostly.
Plants and Flowers
Field Bindweed, Lesser st. John's Wort, Tutsan (flowers turn into red berries then black), Red Valerian, White Valerian, Cyclamen, Self Heal, Herb Robert, Common Fleabane, red berries of Black Bryony, Meadow Vetchling, Field
Scabrous, Yellow Mouse-ear, Hemp Agrimony, Woundwort, Pennywort, Yarrow,
Smooth Saw Thistle, Butterbur, Winter Heliotrope, Bristly Oxtongue, Broad
Buckler Fern, Hart's Tongue Fern, Common Polypody Fern, Old Man's Beard, nettles, docks, daisy, dandelion.
Pretty pink, almost flower-like berries of the Spindle tree, yew, holly, vibernum berries.
Blackberries and sloes going over now. A lot of beech mast fallen and crunching underfoot.
Common Darter: males seen on plants or on the paths of the park
Southern Hawker: large dragonflies seen patrolling glades in the park or guarding pond territories, especially over No 4 pond (the Top Pond) in the Dell.
Black-tailed Skimmer: a female or immature male seen in the Rowdens. Usually flies May to August, golden body with thin black stripes quite large at 50mm long,
Southern Hawker is the biggest in the park at 70 mm long.
Photo 3 By Charles J Sharp - Own work, from Sharp Photography, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38297595
Photo 5 Charles J Sharp, own work
Photo 6 attribution - Jörg Hempel [CC BY-SA 3.0
Photo 7 Author - Will Brown [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanoplus_femurrubrum
Photo 4 by Hectonichus - Own work CC BY-SA 3.0
Photo 1 by Dave Hitchborne / Hedgerow, Kirkstead / CC BY-SA 2.0 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hedgerow,_Kirkstead_-_geograph.org.uk_-_556748.jpg