A natural history of the Hedgerows and Gardens in Clewers Lane, Waltham Chase.
Words and pictures by Gordon Larcombe
Green and white have been the predominant colours in the Lane over the past month. The Hawthorn trees have burst into flower and the Cow Parsley has grown tall on the verges. Here and there, patches of Wild Garlic – also known as Ransomes – can be seen contributing to the colour scheme.
MAY/JUNE HEDGEROW, CLEWERS LANE
WILD GARLIC, CLEWERS LANE
The Ash trees have burst into leaf with their spikes of purple flowers clearly visible, and the Oak trees too are now covered in fresh green leaves. All this greenery makes it harder to spot the birds and insects which inhabit the lane, but one or two have been kind enough to pose for photographs. Judging by the juicy worm in its beak, this Mistle Thrush has young to feed:
MISTLE THRUSH WITH BROOD FOOD, CLEWERS LANE
Although it has similar markings, the Mistle Thrush is a couple of inches larger than it’s close relative, the Song Thrush and is rarely confused with it.
Robins are very territorial creatures and will engage in quite violent battles with fellow robins who intrude into their ‘patch’. Usually an encounter only consists of displays which are sufficient to convince one of the birds to depart from the territory. The display usually consists of raising the head to make the red breast appear as large as possible, and lifting the tailfeathers. Here is a picture of such a display which occurred a few days ago:
TWO ROBINS DISPLAYING, CLEWERS LANE
A Goldfinch was spotted showing an unusual interest in Dandelion petals, pulling them out and collecting them in its beak before flying off with them. I don’t know what would cause this behaviour: maybe the bright yellow petals were an offering for its mate:
GOLDFINCH AND DANDELIONS, CLEWERS LANE
More butterflies and other insects have put in appearance as the weather has generally warmed up. There are several Shield Bugs which are fairly common in the hedgerow: The Green Shield Bug, The Hawthorn Shield Bug and the Forest Shield Bug. They are all about a centimetre from nose to tail:
FOREST SHIELD BUG ON LILAC, CLEWERS LANE
The Holly Blue Butterflies have been flitting amongst the hedgerow. The blue is a small butterfly, with a wingspan of only two or three centimetres. Here is a snapshot of a female of the species:
FEMALE HOLLY BLUE BUTTERFLY, CLEWERS LANE
Even smaller than the Holly Blue, this little day flying moth is one of several which I have seen but do not recognise. It is very small – with a wingspan of no more than one centimetre:
TINY MOTH, CLEWERS LANE
Housemartins have arrived from Africa and can be seen speeding around the sky as they search for insects. After dark, the Pipistrelle bats take over the hunt for moths and crane flies – it’s a hazardous life for winged insects! The House sparrow chicks have fledged and the adults are nest building in readiness for the second brood. Blackbirds have also fledged and here is a picture of quite a mature fledgling, sitting on a compost heap, waiting for its parents to arrive with more food:
FLEDGLING BLACKBIRD, CLEWERS LANE