Category Archives: Fauna

Mini-beasts and Wild Flowers Walk

Around 25 people, adults and children,  joined entomologist Keith Porter and local botanist, Richard Jefferson for a hunt for mini beasts.

Before setting off, Keith demonstrated the use of insect nets, sweep nets and beating trays for collecting insects. We set off along the main north-south ride armed with this equipment and plenty of pots for collecting and identifying our catches.

Although butterfly numbers were down on last year’s walk, we still manged to see several species, including lots of ringlets, green-veined whites and a peacock. The silver-washed  Fritillary was again evident but no individuals  decided to settle on flowers so we were unable to see this gorgeous orange and brown butterfly close to.

We did though collect a wide range of other insects and spiders. These included  lots of soldier beetles, which has the misleading name of ‘blood sucker’, various species of hover fly, an orange ladybird which has the unusual scientific name of Halzia 16-Guttata, an oak  bush cricket, forest shield bug and a common blue damselfly.

common blue damselfly
Common blue damselfly (Dave Evans)

With regard to flowers, we enjoyed the the drifts of meadowsweet along the ride and Richard pointed out the three species of thistle –  creeping, spear and marsh – all of which are attractive to insects. The frothy creamy white flowers of meadowsweet have a sweet heavy scent and it was once used to flavour mead. We also spotted teasel coming into flower. This rather stately plant was very popular with bumble bees.

teasel bumblebees
Teasel and bumblebees (Richard Jefferson)

We also found corn mint in damp areas. The foliage has been described as smelling of a mixture of apples and ginger bread and, apparently, sprigs of this plant were once placed in corn stacks in Ireland to discourage mice!

Photographs by Dave Evans and Richard Jefferson

Flowers and Minibeasts Walk

The walk started well, as the leaders, Keith Porter and Richard Jefferson had been on a pre-amble and returned with a Purple Hairstreak – which although found in the wood is not something many of us had seen as they spend their lives right at the top of oak trees – so are difficult to spot!

Setting off; looking for flowers and minibeast!
Setting off; looking for flowers and minibeast!

We set off furnished with butterfly nets and sweep nets, which not only did the children enjoy – but the adults had great fun trying to catch butterflies and even more fun transferring them to the identification pots.

Identifying the latest catch!
Identifying the latest catch!

The star of the last years show returned this year – the Silver Washed Fritillary – a beautiful orange and brown butterfly, quite large and displaying perfectly for us to see.  Someone then caught a White Letter Hairstreak, which is not particularly common, and the young feed on Elm.  In addition we saw Brimstones (this year’s brood), Ringlets, Peacocks, Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns from the butterfly world – and then to top the afternoon off we caught a Brown Argus butterfly – recorded previously in the wood – but not seen before by those attending.

On closer inspection....
On closer inspection….

The bugs caught in the sweep nets included Shield Bugs, Lacewings, Soldier Beetles, 14 spot Ladybird, and a Bush Cricket, not to mention the large Spider!

Can you identify the butterfly?
Can you identify the butterfly?

With regard to flowers, we enjoyed the creeping Thistles which were full of butterflies, and this became obvious why when we smelt the flowers – just like honey!  The Angelica flowers were full of Hoverflies as they are easy for insects to get nectar from due to their open flowers.  We saw Ragwort – which although disliked by many is good for insects and home to the Cinnabar moth.  There was also St John’s Wort – used as a medicinal plant, Meadowsweet and Spear Thistle.

Our thanks go Keith and Richard for a lovely afternoon, the weather was exceptionally good, and the walk was very much enjoyed by the 20 or so people attending.

Photographs by Roland Smith.

Winter Bird Walk

The Friends held their first winter bird walk in the snow on the Saturday between Christmas and New Year, led by Vaughan Roberts.  As always a walk in the snow in the woods is quite magical.

We started in the car park looking at one of the bird tables with the feeders which are filled regularly by a team of volunteers from the Friends. A brightly coloured Jay was enjoying the nuts, as were Marsh Tits and Great Tits, and a Blackbird kept nipping in for some seed. While in the car park a Treecreeper disappeared behind a tree before flying off. We saw our Christmas Robin all fluffed up in a bush just before setting off.

While walking around some of the less used rides we came across a charm of Goldfinches in the top of a tree and whilst watching those, a herd of deer galloped past, including one of the white ones. We passed a second bird table on our way back which had a Nuthatch feeding from it and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker in a nearby tree. Of course we also saw regulars such as Woodpigeon, Crows, Magpies and Blue Tits.

Photographs by Jennifer Roberts

Bugs, Beetles and Butterflies Talk By Dr Keith Porter

Those attending the talk organised by the Friends of Bourne Wood, on some of the butterflies, bugs and beetles found in woodland, enjoyed a very informative evening.

Dr Keith Porter very cleverly took us on a tour of the different areas of the woodland and described which species may be found there. Starting with the grassy paths and their Speckled Wood butterflies which are known to most of us and, finishing with the life in the tall trees and the Purple Hairstreak butterfly which are difficult to see, as they spend their time around the tops of oak trees!

purple hairstreak upperwing female
Purple Hairstreak (Favonius Quercus) female upper wing.

He described the lifestyle of some of the butterflies and bugs, including the ways they lay their eggs and how they hibernate through the winter, often as tiny caterpillars. In finishing he left us with the challenge of finding species that are known to be in the area, but have not yet been recorded in the wood, suggesting that they could well be found there.

Our thanks go to Keith for his very interesting talk, and for stepping in at short notice.

Photo courtesy of the Butterfly Conservation.

Bug Hunt In Bourne Woods

We had a lovely sunny summer afternoon for our bug hunt. The event started with John Creedy showing us his moth trap from his garden the previous evening, and explaining to the children (and adults) how the trap worked, and the differences between moths and butterflies. He then let the children handle the moths, a huge poplar Hawk moth, an Orange Underwing and a Buff Ermine to name but a few.

From there Jon Webb hand out some nets to those present, butterfly nets to catch flying insects, sweep nets to brush over the vegetation to catch small bugs. The children (and their parents) then had great fun trying to catch butterflies and even more fun putting them in the pots provided!

We then wandered along with people catching bugs and taking them to the various experts to identify. There were numerous Ringlet butterflies, a few large Skippers, a White Admiral, a lovely Longhorn beetle, an Oak Bush cricket nymph (with really long feelers), and a Flea beetle to name just a few that we caught.

silver washed fritallary
Silver-Washed Fritillary (Argynnis Paphia) a rare sighting!

The highlight for me was the Silver Washed Fritillary though, caught after a prolonged chase I believe but absolutely stunning and something I had not seen previously in the wood, we all waited patiently until Keith Porter returned to identify it!

Thank you to Keith, John , Jon and Richard for a very entertaining and informative afternoon which I hope can be repeated.

Photo courtesy of UK Butterflies

 

All Senses Rejuvenated: The Joys of Bourne Woods

If you have worries or are feeling down- go to the woods! We have endured weeks of winter grey with muddy paths, damage from gales and, in some parts, floods. However it has come out all right in the end with carpets of Bluebells and Greater Stitchwort. The new growth is a lush green and spring is in the air. The Blackcaps and Chiff-Chaffs are singing loudly whilst the Blue Tits and the larger Great Tits are busy checking out the bird boxes kindly donated by the Len Pick Trust. They really are “des-res” (desirable residences) particularly for the tit species though we may have Nuthatches or bees in them again. If I were the birds I would get cracking and move in before somebody else does! No such thing as being on a housing waiting list- they just occupy first come first served!

I have seen Red Kites flying low over the wood margins- magnificent birds especially when seen close up. Almost as big as a door yet they soar through the air with the finest of control with their long tails. One landed in the tree not far away, seeming to look at me with a piercing stare. The yellow hooked beak and curved talons all implied “King of the Patch”. After ten minutes he flew off lazily with slow wing beats powerfully giving the lift required.

This week the first Cuckoos have started calling in the wood, and at least one Nightingale is singing by the ponds. I can smell the Cow Parsley and can feel the cool damp air on my skin. All senses rejuvenated and with a dog content after her walk I felt inspired to write this article and share with you some of the joys of Bourne Woods!