Local community site for Broadstone, Dorset, since 1999

Nature Diary – August 2015

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woodmouse

wood mouse

A Blackbird has once again chosen to build her nest in a (Pyracantha) that grows beside my front door; she must feel very safe that she decided to raise four broods here this year. The first two broods numbering five, the third brood four and the fourth brood two, all successfully left the nest without magpie predation. I used to feed the parents live mealworms, they would come to my back door and wait for me or my wife to feed them, and they became so tame they would come into the house to be fed. Another little fellow that we feed is a wood mouse that lives under the roots of an elder tree which grows close to the house. He only shows his big eyes and ears when all is quiet, a very wise mouse as we do have a cat, he has taken to eating biscuit crumbs pressed in a piece of lard and squashed in a fork of the tree, just in case.

This year for the first time Jackdaws have come into the Recreation ground to feed on invertebrates and bits of fruit, Apple cores, Banana skins, etc that people could not be bothered to put in the litter bin. They share the field with the usual resident Carrion Crows, and Magpies; they first appeared in March, but by the end of July suddenly disappeared. These friendly corvids are still with us nesting in chimneys that are no longer used, but for some unknown reason have given the cricket field a miss. This strange occurrence happened in the late 1970s I remember the cricket field being alive with Starlings they would descend to congregate on the field in August/September by their hundreds to eat the hatching crane fly ,and any larvae i.e. leather jackets that had not yet hatched which being a pest feeds on grass roots leaving yellow patches. The cricket outfield has a problem with drainage always being wet, so became an ideal habitat for (Tipula) when the Starlings had gone the field would look very untidy being covered in holes where their beaks had probed for food. But for some unknown reason the Starlings have never been back, I have not seen a Starling on the field or anywhere else in the park since then, but the crane flies still appear every year.

Sun 16th Being sunny and hot I went to Dunyeat’s Hill to check on two resident Heathland Formicidae colonies, notably the Slavemaker ant (Formica sanguine) to see if they were still active and had not been disturbed, and moved to another location, although there is not much left of the dead pine stump where they live. I moved a small portion of dead wood and was immediately attacked and bitten by two courageous workers, this species is superficially similar to the wood ant (Formica rufa) but with more red, and it also lacks the ability to squirt formic acid into the air. The second colony of this listed ant is located in a decaying felled pine and was also active. This ant has been known to retire below ground before the end of this month and not returning above ground before May. The (Formica cunnicularia) nest which was damaged by over eager conservationists excavating an area for Sand lizards is still active, the colony having rebuilt the nest. All the time I was on the heath I kept hearing a buzzard (Buteo buteo) calling from a pine tree, when I had my binoculars focused on him I could see that he was a very pale bird almost white, these individuals I am told are quite rare in Britain. I observed two butterflies in the short time that I was on the heath, one a rather tatty Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) and a Grayling (Hipparchia semele) sunning himself as usual with wings closed.

Friday 21st Once again I heard the deep croak of a Raven (Corvus corax) as it passed over the recreation ground. I have heard it twice this week; it would be great if a pair decided to nest here in Broadstone. We now have five of the Corvidae family in Broadstone, four definitely breeding here.

morningglory

morning glory

1st Sept after all the rain we have had the sun has decided to show its face, I wanted to prune my Buddleias but Butterflies are still visiting the few flowers that are still in bloom so I have left it until they have all faded. A flower that is still in bloom and has done so all summer is my morning glory, this beautiful gentian blue convolvulus I grow every year although the flowers only last a day or so they are immediately replaced with others. Butterflies visiting the garden so far this year – Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia); Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria); Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) (male & female); Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta); Peacock (Inachis io); Gate keeper (Pyronia tithonus); Large white (Pieris brassicae); Small white (Pieris rapae); Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus).

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About Author

I am a retired groundsman and have lived in Broadstone for forty years. I am a volunteer warden for ARC monitoring the amphibians and reptiles that live on the Heath at Dunyeats Hill which I have been doing since 2008. I am also oology curator at the Bournemouth Natural Science Museum cataloguing their egg collections.

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