Andrew Bluett was joined by Nick Christian and Rob Husbands for a morning’s exploration of the CNQ site at this time when much of the breeding process is in action for birds and most other species. My thanks to those unable to accompany us who sent their apologies, this is a busy time for most naturalists and many had other commitments.
The morning was very hot and sunny but equally, very productive. We first visited and inspected the areas that have been stripped as part of the current site investigation works. Many areas where this exploration is to occur have had the majority of the grass mat and other growth removed almost to bare earth in places, including the removal of small trees and some shrub growth.
The first find was a very lively and active Slow Worm on one of the stripped patches; later, a fully grown Adder quite literally crossed our path. On checking other areas of the grassland a second and less active Slow Worm came to light as did a large, probably male Grass Snake and a very small, brown and juvenile Adder.
Ground nesting birds were represented by at least six Willow Warblers singing and one female off a nest, two Chiff Chaffs (most would now be almost silent having active nests), at least one Pheasant calling and a solitary Tree Pipit. The Tree Pipit was in a different location from the previously recorded birds on the site, it is possible that this was a third bird in a new location, though it could have been one of the singing birds noted last week, having been disturbed and displaced by the investigation works. Later visits when there are young in nests may shed more light on this situation.
Other birds noted – Hawfinch, Whitethroat (3), Goldfinches (20), Wood Pigeon, Garden Warbler (5), Carrion Crow (resident pair), Green Woodpecker, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit (family party), Robin (fledged young), Blackcap, Wren, Blackbird (nest with eggs), House Sparrows and a number of Swallows hawking for insects.
A few damselflies and early Dragonflies (Common Darter and very bright yellow Broad Bodied Chaser) were in evidence. Butterflies were represented by Small Heath, Orange Tip, Common Blues, Green Veined White, Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood.
Area of stripped ground near Steam Mills Road
Slow Worm and Adder
Hawfinch and Tree Pipit