Sunday, 7 August 2016

Recent local sightings

Scything workshop TCFMM
Butterflies did not do so well in the wet early summer period, but the sunshine in the past week has bought them out. The highlight is the white-letter hairstreak seen across the Surrey boundary near Ewell Court Park; this species can be found in selected places along the Hogsmill by the keen-eyed. The change in grass-cutting regimes has assisted grassland species, although skippers have been hard to find. Tolworth Court Farm Moated Manor has been especially good for marbled whites :)



ornamental carp with chub
We have been undertaking a reptile survey at TCFMM, which so far has not priduced any reptiles, but short tailed voles, pygmy shrews and woodmice have enjoyed constructing their nests under these refuges. This ornamental carp was spotted underneath the bridge along the A240-along  with a chub with the dark tail-, which can just be seen in the photograph. At the next bridge - the one with the passing places that leads to Riverhill- we recorded Daubenton's bats during our Daubenton's waterway survey 2.8.16. This is the first time they have been recorded here during this annual survey in recent years.

Hogsmill Kingston


Along the Hogsmill there have been some interesting bird sightings, with regular kingfisher presence indicating breeding; including the town centre and Kingsmeadow. Unfortunately, of the five pairs of grey wagtails- from the town centre to cemetery- only one managed to escape the flooding, producing a brood that successfully fledged. At Middle-Mill island a pair were seen feeding a short tailed youngster. The pair at Hogsmill Lane seemed to have no purpose for the days immediately after the last heavy rainfall but soon started breeding again. Many bird species are still feeding young this August. A little egret was seen flying across Elmbridge Meadows recently. A peregrine was a good above-garden tick last week and I saw four at the newly-developed water tower in Epsom three weeks ago. Kestrels are regulars at TCFMM and Tolworth Court Farm. A reed bunting was seen at the reedbed in Jubilee Meadows and reed warblers at the pond in Alexander Recreation ground which unfortunately has a bad case of crassula.
Silver eel DoN



On a completely different river-the Dukes river in Isleworth - at the Mogden Sewage Works eel trap, they have been catching silver eels, or returning elvers. These are about c95mm long and would have been recorded in their hundreds if not thousands until a few years ago. Not such a healthy sign on the Hogsmill, with only adults eels being caught and in low numbers -only eleven so far this year-with as many animals found dead. More on fish: the common carp in one of the Home Park ponds are being replaced with Crucian, a much smaller species that will cause less impact. On the Wandle at Hackbridge, fishermen showed us pictures of the trout they had caught (rainbow as well as brown). Their favoured hiding place is a well-unkept secret!

Processing bats during trapping
On the bat front, I have had 13 casualties so far this year including  -a juvenile- from along the Hogsmill near Gately Green. This had a nasty burn along its forearm but the vet determined that this was superficial and the skin would eventually heal. This would delay flight and the flight muscles would need strengthening. One recent late night call out was to a couple who had a bat fly into their bedroom. After a hour with the bat detector- until after midnight- we determined that the initial advice of leaving the room in darkness, with the windows wide open, was the best way of it finding its way out.

The Brandts bat from Jubilee Wood found during our harp trapping session, was a revelation as there is only one record of the species being recorded in the borough.
Nathusius's pipistrelle playing dead
The trapping is licensed as part of  a national Nathusius's pipistrelle project to assess the status of this animal in this country- since it's recent arrival - often attributed to global climate change. Not only did we find a Nathuius's pip, but it was a pregnant female, indicating breeding status in the borough. One of the characteristics of the species, is that when caught they play dead. This gives us ample opportunity to take a good look at them!

We are trapping tonight after the parturition break, as we are not allowed to trap during mid-June under the conditions of our licence. Watch this space to see what we catch!


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