Showing posts from June, 2018

Glow worms at the north Surrey border

  Glow worms can be found at least two locations in north Surrey including Epsom Common and Princes Coverts. We found GW's at the Covers (as Richard Jefferies referred to the site in Nature Near London) several years ago when listening for night jars after the great western hemlock compartments were clear felled to be replanted with wildlife-friendlier broad leaved woodland trees.   Our understanding of the best way to manage a GW site is surprisingly poor. Just as we think we know what they like, they turn up in some seemingly quite unsuitable location, shunning what we would think is a much better habitat. In general, however, we aim for a mosaic of weedy areas where the larvae can find snails, and open areas where they can display as adults and the males can fly to find them. They may also like a fairly loose soil, or at least places where they can get down into the undergrowth during the day and find a cool, moist spot to lay their eggs. Sometimes they may even turn up


Large skipper   burnet companion Now onwards is the best time to go out butterfly watching: Kingston Cemetery is one of the top local sites  for sheer diversity of species with lots of browns; including good numbers of ringlets, which have made a come back locally  as well as meadow browns (although they won't like the hot dry weather to come next week). Large and small skippers are showing well, now that the grass has been left to grow long. pupating caterpillar  Burnet companions are a dayflying moth - a confusion species for dingy skippers - especially when they are found on their food plant (birds-foot trefoil). A migratory painted lady butterfly was a random sighting in the old part of the cemetery last weekend. It was seen whilst admiring a caterpillar pupating on the branch of an elm, only  recently planted by members of the Cemetery Wildlife Group (see earlier post). Unfortunately, it is not thought to be a white-letter hairstreak where London wide the count i

Seething Wells: they've done it again

The last day of May, I went to see if I could find the black redstart that had been widely reported, no luck but it will turn up again on one of the old buildings. The lush vegetation was looking beautiful between the Filter Beds at Seething Wells. I made a note of the breeding birds: goldfinches twinkling away, blue tits gathering food, sand martins flying over the FB's (only two this year unfortunately) moorhens and some scruffy little coot chicks entangled in the algal blooms.   Proud parents were showing off their four Canada chicks; they can cover a lot of ground in a short space of time they were soon feeding on water pepper and bistort gleaned from  the ziggerat-sided basins. A song thrush sang from the wharf alongside greenfinches as well as the seasonal chiff chaff; although this year all numbers are down, reflecting not only the topsy-turvy Spring but also the continued tumble in insect numbers (even seed eating birds are dependent on insects to feed their young).

Drones and motorcycles on nature areas: threat, harm and risk

Jet ant It was a splendid day, and eventually, I found the ancient oak tree with its processing jet ants. However, I felt exhausted after three hours of engine noise from the direction of  Great Hollands field - the one closest to Jubilee Way car park- made worse by the fact that I was in Great Meadow field - its polar opposite. Eventually the noise found me, as young motorcyclists - looking more like they should be on a beach- began tearing up and down the newly mown pathways, outstripping the noise of the drones being flown.   Attilla is allowed allowed?     No-one has landowner permission to fly drones on Tolworth Court Farm. I know this, as I checked with a council officer who said, 'no-one has permission to fly drones on Tolworth Court Farm'.  In fact, despite being named Atilla, the only vehicles allowed on TCF are the grasscutters.   Motorcycles not allowed     After three hours of noise and 25 degrees of sun, it was becoming difficult to ignore the fracas and so