Clewers Lane Nature diary.


MAY 2013.

A natural history of the Hedgerows and Gardens in Clewers Lane, Waltham Chase.

Words and pictures by Gordon Larcombe

Spring weather at last put on a show, with several days of sunshine before the wind and the rain arrived again and demonstrated the wisdom of the old saying, “Ne’er cast a clout ’til May is out”, which basically means that it is advisable to keep the warm clothes on until either May (the month) is over, or May (the Hawthorn blossom) is out.

Early in the month, a spring visitor was spotted in the Lane – a male Whitethroat. The songbird is about the size of a robin, but is much less self-assured and tends to creep about out of the spotlight. Whitethroats travel to Britain from West Africa in order to breed during our summer:


MALE WHITETHROAT, CLEWERS LANE

Resident birds are well into their breeding seasons and have chicks to feed. The male blackbird, shown below, was making a fine job of collecting invertebrates with which to feed to his young (and at the same time removing leatherjackets from the grass) while the male Greenfinch was busy collecting seed from the Lungwort plants with which to feed his brood:


MALE BLACKBIRD WITH BROOD FOOD, CLEWERS LANE


MALE GREENFINCH TAKING LUNGWORT SEED, CLEWERS LANE

As the fledglings began to appear, so did the predators. The magpies have been seen catching and killing the youngsters to use as food for their own chicks, and the appearance over the lane of this Buzzard, resulted in a spectacular aerial fight with a pair of Crows as they saw the interloper off:


BUZZARD, CLEWERS LANE

The warm spell of sunshine brought out a number of butterflies and they could be seen feeding on the nectar-rich flowering plants. Small Tortoiseshell, Holly Blue, Peacock, Brimstone and Small White were flittering along the lane. Several seven-spot ladybirds were also emerging from their winter hiding places:


BRIMSTONE BUTTERFLY, CLEWERS LANE


SMALL TORTOISESHELL BUTTERFLY, CLEWERS LANE


PEACOCK BUTTERFLY, CLEWERS LANE

Mammals also became more active as the weather warmed up. The Pipistrelle bats which hunt for insects on the wing in the lane were active as early as 24 April and make for an enjoyable display. Insects are attracted to the artificial light from windows and the bats pursue them right up to the windows, but never actually hit the glass. Hedgehogs and Badgers have both been active in the lane; their droppings are easily-identifiable calling cards.

Plant life also burst into life with the arrival of the warm weather. The Lesser Celandines are now past their best, but the Violets, Primroses and Wood Anemones are still showing, while Cow Parsley, Jack by the Hedge, and Cuckoo Pint are approaching their prime. The Bull Ace trees were covered in blossom until the recent winds. Bull Aces are small plums which provide a good source of autumn food for many species (including Wine and/or Pie makers). Bull Aces have plum like blossoms which usually appear after Blackthorn and before Hawthorn.


VIOLET, CLEWERS LANE


BULLACE BLOSSOM, CLEWERS LANE

And, finally, here is a picture of a male Dunnock who sings around the clock, no matter how ghastly the weather:


MALE DUNNOCK, CLEWERS LANE


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One Response to Clewers Lane Nature diary.

  1. patstaples says:

    Amazing photos hard to believe all in our Clewers Lane

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