Nature Observations: Eastcliff(Mules)Park - October 2019
by Catherine Locke
A lot of robins about. A lovely clear October day. Crickets singing in the grass,
and craneflies in the top meadow, although this year I have noticed a decline in their
numbers in the park. Good to see the meadows left uncut until later, as last year they
cut early and took the harvest of hay and wildflower seed to the new Dawlish
Countryside Park to spread on the meadows there.
Today I saw two Red Admiral and three Small White butterflies. Not many Large
Whites about this year.
The trees are just beginning to turn now in the park. A group of tall Sycamores are
gradually turning yellow by the lower edge of the top meadow.
The sun lights their fires.
a family of Blue Tits
a family of Magpies
Flock of Goldfinches
a Great Tit family
pair of Wrens
flock of Long Tailed Tits
a pair of Dunnocks
many Wood Pidgeons
two families of Crows
a family of Jays( always heard first when they are in the trees and, if lucky, are then seen).
Its amusing to watch families of Grey squirrels using the long branches of the
Monteray pines by the park steps as arial runways.
Sunny. Lucky to see 6 Red Admiral butterflies and so many honey bees on sunlit ivy
flowers. The ivy tumbles over a wire fence which separates the park from the grounds
of Cliffden. Ivy is such an important resource for insects as late flowering pollen and
nectar, and provides berries for birds afterwards, and shelter for them too.
Altogether in the park today I saw eight Red Admiral butterflies, one Small White
and four Speckled Woods. Unusual as it is a windy day. I was pelted by leaves
and Sycamore seeds along the lower path. I saw a couple of squirrel drays in the
Sycamore trees; a tangled mass of twigs leaves and earth, often in an irregular
shape, in a high fork of a tree.
I was blessed today to see three separate families of Goldcrests. I usually hear their
thin high pitched see-see-seee call first before I spot them hopping around in the
branches, often going upside down to take tiny insects from twigs and leaves.
I saw an unusuall fly on an Elder leaf. Around half an inch long with a copper
green shiny thorax and brown wings over the abdomen. I looked it up later and
found it was a type of soldier fly called Chloromyia Formosa, a male as the female
has different colours. Usually flies May to August but there is no mistaking the
A flock of Goldfinches twittering as they flew across the park. A cheerful sound from
a colourful little bird that is one of my favourites, and increasing in numbers in the
Wood Pidgeons are gathereing in large flocks now, going from one feeding site to
another and feeding safer in groups. Crows flying over in spread-out flocks as well.
A lot of interesting Fungi about after recent rains. Some of the types I've seen are:
Clumps of Fairies Bonnets on rotting wood under trees at the Rowden's edge
path, and in the same area Charcoal Burner fungus. Under Holm Oaks and
English Yews in a dark wooded area near the Rowdens I found a group of Large-
cap Shaggy Parasol mushrooms, and in the grass under a tall fir tree I found
clumps of cultivated mushrooms. By the OverDell path I saw Destroying Angel
toadstools, and on rotting logs behind the Walled Garden, King Alfreds Cakes,
hard black rounded fungal growths. In The Dell woods Orange Jelly fungus on a
rotting stump with Yellow Fingers and Candle Snuff fungus. Also the rubbery
brain gelatinous forms of Jews Ear fungus.
A sunny but cold day. A lot of Grey squirrels about, mostly munching on sycamore
seeds up in the branches. Saw a queen bumble bee looking for a nest site. Quite a
few robins again, mostly making a titting noise, showing other robins that this is
their territory, or a short sharp whistle as an alarm call. There are many flocks of
Great to see a kestral hovering over the meadow in the park. She was chased by
crows several times but was quick at dodging them. I also saw a pair of Willow
Warblers in a tree next to the Walled Garden. I had my binoculars so I managed
to get a good look at them as they searched for insects. Saw a handsome male
Bullfinch in a bush near "Finch Copse" which is my name for for the stand of
hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel and sycamore, with a natural tunnel walkway through it,
by the lower meadow.
A sunny and calm day today. Wasps and flies sunbathing on the large leaves of
tree mallows by the park steps. So many families of Grey squirrels in the park
now, running and jumping or feeding on tree seeds. There were several families just in
the Monteray pines. A wren zipped past my nose to land in a bush at the bottom of
one of the pines. Robins titting everywhere. At least 6 pairs heard and 7
individuals seen. It was a Wren day as well with 3 pairs heard and 2
individuals. I also saw 5 separate families of Magpies in the park, with their
chattering calls echoing all the time. Yesterday's gale force winds had almost
stripped exposed trees of their leaves. Two of the Tree Mallows had been snapped in
the wind. I saw the hovering female kestral again, in her usual spot over the rabbit
brambles and hedgerow of the lower meadow. A family of Goldcrests seen in trees by
the lower path, which is a sheltered path that leads to a fork. One of the prongs of
the fork is The Dell path, the other prong leading above The Dell through
woodland. I call this, appropriately, Overdell Path. I often see Bullfinches there.
I took the Dell Path today and heard the twittering of many Goldfinches in a
towering Ash tree by a garden fence. Today was a real Goldfinch day as I saw one
large flock, two smaller flocks, and a juvenile on a garden feeder near to the park
boundary. The juvenile has the bright yellow wing streak but the head is grey with no
sign of the red,white and black of the adult. The yellow wing flash is, I think, for
flock recognition, whereas the striking colours of the adult head plumage are for
attracting mates in the breeding season, and red is also a warning colour for
The ponds are very full now with each waterfall gushing loudly into rapidly flowing
streams, and thence to the tiered ponds. Primroses and Hydrangeas are still in
bloom. Spotted a pair of Bullfinches in trees adjacent to pond number 3, near to a
garden peanut feeder. Also seen there a pair of Dunnocks, a family of Goldfinches
and a family of Blue tits.
Top meadow has been mown now and the grass taken for making hay. Magpies,
crows and Herring gulls searched for worms and insects upon the cut meadow.
Over the lower meadow I saw a flock of crows, a flock of around 25 Wood
pidgeons, a striking jay in the hedgerow with a large acorn in its beak. I heard
recently on Autumn Watch that jays can carry 8 acorns in their crop and another in
their beak and they will bury them all in different place. That is good news for the
oak tree as they will forget at least a percentage of them.
Highly poisonous bright red berries have now appeared on the Black Bryony, a
climbing plant with large heart-shaped leaves, and finally orange berries are spilling
out from cracked open pods of the Stinking Iris, under tree shade.
photo 2 author Charles J Sharp [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
photo 3 author Hectonichus [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
photo 4 author voir ci-dessous [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
photo 5 Author Sepand Bakhtiari [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
photo 6 Author Francis C. Franklin / CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]censes/by-sa/4.0)]