Clewers Lane Nature diary


February 2014.

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

Words and pictures by Gordon Larcombe

February continued with the very wet, very windy weather interspersed with some cold, still nights and icy mornings and just a few days of bright sunshine. During these brief periods of respite, the insects began to emerge and seek out nectar-rich flowers. There seemed to be large numbers of buff-tailed bumble bees about – perhaps the mild temperature of this winter suited them. As the butterflies appeared, it was clear that many had suffered storm damage. They were flying much less powerfully than usual, and close inspection showed that many had pieces of wing missing. Presumably lost as a result of the winds and hailstones.


SMALL TORTOISESHELL WITH DAMAGED WINGS CLEWERS LANE


PEACOCK BUTTERFLY WITH DAMAGED WINGS, CLEWERS LANE

.


RED ADMIRAL WITH DAMAGED WINGS, CLEWERS LANE

Spotting and photographing the birds during the rainy weather has been difficult. However, at this time of the year it is fairly easy to detect their presence from their song. The song of the appropriately named song thrush has been the dominant sound in the lane from dawn onwards, whatever the weather. I managed to take this snapshot of one male during a brief sunny spell:


MALE SONGTHRUSH, CLEWERS LANE

Just behind the song thrush in volume is the nuthatch, with an unmusical call that is more quantity than quality. The dunnock, robin and chaffinch on the other hand have very mellifluous songs and they too have been making their presence known on a daily basis, as have the bullfinches who call to one another with a gentle, monotonous ‘Pea’ sound. On days when there has been no wind, a drumming noise can be heard coming from the oaks at the east end of the lane – it is the male greater spotted woodpecker marking out his territory by drumming his beak on a suitable hollow branch. Occasionally, they fly down onto the hedgerow and I managed to catch this very poor snapshot of the male, showing the bright red rear feathers. The bird moves so rapidly that it is hard to get a good shot, especially with my pocket camera:


MALE GREATER SPOTTED WOODPECKER, CLEWERS LANE

The long tailed tits have been combing the hedgerow and this one stopped off at my feeder, in the rain:


LONG TAILED TIT, CLEWERS LANE

In the final week of February, the plants of the verge suddenly sprang to life. The first flowers of the lesser celandine can now be seen when the sun is out:


LESSER CELANDINE, CLEWERS LANE

As the plants started to appear, so did the creatures which feed upon them. This little sawfly grub was seen munching on the green shoots in mid-February:


SAWFLY GRUB, CLEWERS LANE

The grub itself will probably soon be part of the food chain, possibly courtesy of this robin which found a novel (if dangerous) way of sheltering from the rain, using the wheel arch of a car:


ROBIN, CLEWERS LANE.

And finally, just to prove that the sun is still in the sky, here’s a nice sunset, looking south from Clewers Lane:


FEBRUARY SUNSET, CLEWERS LANE

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