Clewers Lane Nature diary


 May 2015.

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

Words and pictures by  Gordon Larcombe

The weather in May has been quite ordinary: one or two nice days, but many cold and windy days – classic weather for the start of the cricket season! Whatever the weather, the wildlife seems to cope, and we have seen nestlings fledge, insects appear and wild flowers come into bloom.

This young Robin and young Starling both fledged in April, but have not yet acquired their adult  plumage. The Robin still has the dull rust-coloured breast feathers of a juvenile, and as such, it is tolerated by the adult robins in the territory. As it matures, the plumage becomes traditional robin-red and the bird is likely to be chased off by the local  adults:

JuvRobin

JUVENILE ROBIN, CLEWERS LANE

 

The young Starling does not have the metallic, glossy plumage of an adult; however, starlings are social birds and they do not chase off youngsters: instead they are recruited to help feed the young of the second and third broods later in the year:

 

JuvStarling

JUVENILE STARLING, CLEWERS LANE

 

This young House Sparrow is on the verge of becoming a fledgling. It just needs to keep its nerve and leave the nest – or receive a helpful shove from behind:

FledgSparrow

IMMINENT FLEDGLING HOUSE SPARROW, CLEWERS LANE

 

Great Tits fledge a little later than the species listed earlier. This one is still feeding its young on spiders and the like. It stopped off at the fat balls for a supply of fast-food energy to keep it going:

GrtTit

 GREAT TIT, CLEWERS LANE

 

Greenfinches also fledge a little later. This is influenced by the fact that their main food source is plant seeds; the spring flowers have only just finished setting their seed. The male Greenfinch has a wide variety of songs, ranging from a good impersonation of a rusty swinging gate to a mellifluous trill:

MlGreenFnch

MALE GREENFINCH, CLEWERS LANE

 

One morning, I was surprised to find this Male Pheasant investigating a flower bed in my garden:

MlPheasant

MALE PHEASANT, CLEWERS LANE

 

During a dry spell, this dripping wet adult Robin was spotted emerging from an enthusiastic session in the bird bath:BathingRobin

BATHING ROBIN, CLEWERS LANE

 

Insects have also been active this month. This is a Buff-Tailed Bumble bee worker entering the nest that the queen has made inside a compost heap. At this time of the year, the worker bumble bees are quite small – about half the size of the queen. This is because the queen herself has to raise the first generation of workers and there is rarely enough food available to allow them to grow large. Successive generations will be fed by these small workers and so these generations will consist of much larger worker bumble bees:

BuffTailedBumble

BUFF-TAILED BUMBLE BEE WORKER, CLEWERS LANE

 

Whilst on the subject of bees, this striking beetle is no friend. It is called Spanish Fly and is about half an inch long. This snapshot was taken of one in a flower head where it will lay its eggs which then brush off onto the hairs of visiting solitary bumble bees. In this way, the eggs are carried back to the nest of the solitary bee where they hatch and devour the bee’s own grubs.

SpanishFly

SPANISH FLY, CLEWERS LANE

In the warm sunshine, Brimstone butterflies have been flying along the hedgerow which has been filled with the blossom of the Hawthorn, or ‘May’ blossom as it is sometimes referred to. Small White butterflies are also on the wing; these are quite plain and are sometimes overlooked until the gardener finds the green caterpillars inside a cabbage. Here is a snapshot of an adult insect:SmlWhtButterfly

SMALL WHITE BUTTERFLY, CLEWERS LANE

Several species of wildflower have come into bloom in the lane. Ramsons, or wild garlic, with its characteristic odour grows in the shadier damp parts:

Ramsons

RAMSONS, CLEWERS LANE

Herb Bennet, which at first sight looks like a tall buttercup, is also in flower. This plant is not a member of the buttercup family: it is actually a member of the Geum family (Geum Urbanum). In the middle ages, magical powers were attributed to the plant; it was regarded as a charm against evil spirits and was hung over doors to stop the Devil from crossing the threshold. The roots have a clove-like scent:HerbBennet

HERB BENNET, CLEWERS LANE

Another very common yellow-flowered plant is the Sow Thistle. This grows almost anywhere, and in olden times the leaves were eaten as pot herbsSowThistle

SOW THISTLE, CLEWERS LANE

Finally for this month, here is a picture of a nice sunset, looking West over Clewers Lane:

Sunset

SUNSET, CLEWERS LANE

Advertisements
Gallery | This entry was posted in Nature, Nature Diary, Outdoors and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Clewers Lane Nature diary

  1. karen anderson says:

    Brilliant. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s