Clewers Lane Nature diary


April 2016.

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

Words and pictures by Gordon Larcombe

The weather has been classic April: some nice sunny days and cold nights interspersed with showery periods. The local bats emerged from hibernation and took to the skies on April 12th. Other creatures such as butterflies have survived their hibernation and are busy laying eggs for the next generation which will appear in late Summer. Other creatures are further along the process of creating a new generation – this Blackbird fledgling is almost as large as its parent but still insists on badgering for food. The female parent is already sitting on eggs for the second brood of the year and so the job of feeding the fledglings falls entirely to the male – who does look rather tatty:


BLACKBIRD WITH FLEDGLING AND WORM, CLEWERS LANE

There were only two successful fledglings from the first brood, and this one now seems to capable of looking after itself:


BLACKBIRD FLEDGLING, CLEWERS LANE

Frog spawn has become frog tadpoles and they are growing quite quickly. Within a few weeks they will leave the water as froglets at which stage they will be at great risk of being eaten by birds or lawnmowers. A patch of unmown grass will provide them with moisture and cover during this high- risk stage of their lives:


FROG TADPOLES, CLEWERS LANE

Local Blue Tits have taken up residence in a nest box and have been busy collecting nest material. They synchronise their egg laying to try to ensure that their young emerge at the same time as the little green caterpillars that feed off the young hawthorn leaves:


BLUETIT AT NESTBOX, CLEWERS LANE

Occasionally the manic laughter of the Green Woodpecker can be heard coming from the Oak trees at the Eastern end of the Lane. This large bird is an insect eater and will insert its big beak into the ground in order to feel for insects (particularly ants) with its long tongue. This one is doing just that and will leave several tell-tale holes in the lawn:


GREEN WOODPECKER, CLEWERS LANE

The early spring flowers such as Lungworts have begun to set their seed and this has attracted several small groups of Greenfinches – who are seed eaters:


GREENFINCH, CLEWERS LANE

Another seed-eater is the Goldfinch and they often visit gardens and verges at this time of the year in order to eat the fresh seeds heads of Daisies and Dandelions:


GOLDFINCH, CLEWERS LANE

This Brimstone butterfly has emerged from its hibernation to take on board some nectar and lay its eggs for the next generation:


BRIMSTONE BUTTERFLY ON LUNGWORT,CLEWERS LANE

The Peacock Butterfly has also survived hibernation and is also taking on board some sustenance:


PEACOCK BUTTERFLY ON FORGET-ME-NOT, CLEWERS LANE

Other Butterflies seen on the wing this month have been the Orange Tip, The Speckled Wood and the Red Admiral. The Orange Tip passes winter in the soil as a chrysalis and has only one generation per year. Some butterflies will seek out the nectar of the Dog Violet as a source of food. Unlike the Sweet Violet, the Dog Violet has no scent – ‘Dog’ is an old pejorative term applied to several plants and it means that the plant is not quite as good as other members of the species (in this case the lack of scent). The Dog Rose and Dog’s Mercury are other examples:


DOG VIOLETS, CLEWERS LANE

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