I'm hoping that my absence from the Meadow, enforced by my reluctant custody of a Staffordshire bull-terrier named Chico, will soon be over.
Chico is young and impulsive and not inclined to pay me much attention when farm animals are around so we have been visiting Rushcliffe Country Park on an almost daily basis (where the highlight so far has been a swimming Water Rail) or the cattle and sheep-free Bunny Moor (where a Kingfisher is almost guaranteed).
But my reason for writing now is to record my sighting of two Roe Deer running out of Rancliffe Wood at dusk yesterday, with the one in second place almost becoming Christmas dinner as it crossed Pendock Lane - though I braked hard instinctively as my car, aged though it is, probably exceeds the value of wild venison.
These are the second Roe Deer that I've witnessed in Rushcliffe (the first being at dawn in Old Wood) though I've heard reports of others. It seems that, along with Muntjac (in my experience) they are much more numerous than casual sightings and reported records would imply.
2/10/2014 Continuing warm and humid
2 Red Admirals and several Vapourer moths on the wing, the latter, typically flying in maniacal style around the Meadow.
I haven't been running the garden moth trap much this summer but I had reasonable results last night considering the date with 3 Pale Mottled Willow, 5 Lunar Underwing, 4 Shuttle-shaped Dart, 2 Light Brown Apple Moth, 2 Common Marbled Carpet, 1 Eudonia angustea, 2 Blair's Shoulder-knot, 3 Large Yellow Underwing, 2 Beaded Chestnut and 1 Acleris variegana. All common and typical of my garden but nice variety.
In the evening I had the pleasure of giving a talk on moths to the South Notts Wildlife Trust and the even greater pleasure of meeting a former teacher whom I'd last seen in 1965 and with whom I'd been in correspondence over moths in recent years. Mr Marchant has provided me with a lot of data on moths which was invaluable to me in compiling the moth pages on the Rushcliffe Wildlife website. If you are reading this Mike, I want to say that I felt really honoured to have you in the audience and I would have said so less publicly but I've lost your email address!
30/9/2014 Very warm and humid (again)
Following another look at the blue-flowered plant and inspection of slightly better photos I've concluded that it is Chicory rather than Blue Sow-thistle. Erect spreading plants are difficult to capture in a photo but here it is anyway.
It has grown up on the semi-bare patch of sandy ground that was stripped of topsoil last year and since the Meadow is some distance from any gardens I assume this is an entirely natural occurrence.
30/9/2014 Very warm (21°) and humid
A few Meadow Pipits and the same Song Thrush as on 28th were in the lane fields and once again a Chiffchaff sang briefly in the Meadow. I came across a new plant on 'butterfly bank' which I'm reasonably confident is Common Blue Sow-thistle (Cicerbita macrophylla) but the autofocus didn't play ball and the pics are hopeless. There is also another member of the cabbage family in King's Field that I can't id. A Buzzard glided overhead and I think all the hirundines have now departed.
28/9/2014 Very warm and humid
Meadow Pipits are very unusual in the area so at least 17 feeding in one of Tim's fields was exceptional. I think they had all moved on an hour later so they were clearly on passage given the time of year. Small White, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood and several Commas were on the wing or sunning themselves. A Heron was at a nearby pond, a Chiffchaff sang briefly and a solitary Song Thrush added variety.
Just received information about the Black-headed Gull that we found being eaten by a Peregrine at Hathern on 4th September; it had been ringed as an adult (actual age unknown) at Stawy Kiszkowo in Poland on 27th May 2013 so if it had flown to Hathern in a straight line (which I can't imagine it did) it travelled 1,076km.
21/9/2014 Sunny, cool breeze.
Buzzards were very prominent during the entire session today with 7 in the air together for a time and another 3 at different locations that may have been different birds. They were clearly enjoying the stiff breeze and cloudless skies and were accompanied by a Sparrowhawk for a while. Goldfinches were again numerous - they seem to have had an excellent breeding season. Others worth a mention were Green Woodpecker, and a passage of gulls, notably Lesser Black-backed.
Jackdaws normally mix with the Rooks but these are a few of a much larger flock that seemed to be all "of a feather".
And since this might be the last one for some time, I thought it was worth a picture.
8/9/2014 Sunny, calm and warm.
Norman Davill has cut and baled the burial ground meadow and done a wonderful job of mowing Keyworth Meadow - getting into every area including the King's Field and both at a nice late date when all the seeds have set. I'm sure this will have a real beneficial effect on both meadows. In return, Norman gets the hay, and some winter grazing.
Taking advantage of my bike's frame for a leg up I cleared the nest box in the small barn where I'd seen Great Tits back in May but their nesting attempt failed as there were several dead chicks among the moss and horse hair.
Not exactly wildlife related and some distance from the Meadow but perhaps of interest: The Barn Owl project took me to close to the intriguing little building on the hillside between Bunny and East Leake.
Built in the late 18th century it is known as the Water House and apparently there is another further up the hill with some kind of sump between and the arrangement still supplies all the water to Springdale Farm and formerly to a wider area.
4/9/2014 Cloudy and mild.
Two successive days out with the Barn Owl project where we continued to find second broods to add to the already record-breaking year but the highlight today was just outside Rushcliffe at Hathern in Leicestershire where I spotted a Peregrine sitting on the ground beneath the tree that we were approaching. We were only fifteen metres away but the bird stayed put long enough for us to curse not bringing our cameras before flying off to sit on a pylon a couple of hundred metres away. Inspection of where it was sat revealed a decapitated Black-headed Gull that had a Polish metal ring on one leg and a plastic field-readable colour ring on the other. Howard has the rings and I'm awaiting some news of its previous whereabouts.
Incidentally the box had three Barn Owl chicks.
30/8/2014 Cool and breezy but warmer later.
Lots of young passerines along the hedgerows and most of them were Goldfinches. It was hard to estimate their numbers as they were split into multiple groups and some of them were accompanied by Tree Sparrows and Yellowhammers (and I was in a hurry). A Kestrel and a couple of Pied Wagtails put in appearances during the quick whizz around.
You should now be viewing a website that is fluid to any browser size so that you can now have what, in popular parlance is a better "user experience". If not, it might help if you refresh the page and the cache.
As well as staring at computer screens, I've been practical at sign erection too: The posts of the wooden notice at the top of the lane had rotted and the sign was threatened with extermination but many of us thought it was too useful to lose so I gave it a couple of coats of preservative and some leftover gloss, found some posts, got the PC to pay for the bolts, dug some holes and here is the result:
No one seems to know who originally made the sign and who should be looking after it, but then, what are pensioners for?? Don't look too closely - I would do it differently if there is a next time.
One interesting element that seems to have been lost and forgotten is that the oak tree was planted to commemorate Keyworth winning the Best Kept Village competition in 1990 - there is a small plaque on the reverse of one of the boards.
After more than a week's intensive work and and climbing a massive learning curve I've finished re-structuring the website and you should all now have a much better 'experience' on smaller devices such as mobile phones! Also there are now scrolling images (on the home page) and the newer images use the html5 caption facility. Tomorrow (ie later today) I'll have a look at the meadow and get back to normal posts.
No news for a few weeks now as my daughter has been keeping an eye on the the place whilst I caught up with other tasks including an intensive week and a half revamping the website to make it mobile friendly via "bootstrap". I'm nearly there and soon I'll be catching up on some much needed exercise and nature. In the meantime a taster of how it will look can be seen from here (Bootstrap Index) though not all the pages are operational yet.
1/8/2014 Warm and dry (like the past four weeks).
"Butterfly bank" has not been as successful as I would have wished as it is getting lots of Creeping Thistle and Bramble but there is a small patch of the intended Bird's-foot Trefoil and a couple of patches of Common Knapweed. Nectaring at the latter was a Common Blue which is a butterfly I can't recall seeing there before although it is on the list I inherited (as is the Bird's-foot Trefoil) so there has been a small reward. The Creeping Thistle has many swellings on the stems which is the gall of a picture-winged fly, Urophora carduii, which is a new species for the meadow and thanks to my daughter, who has perfect hearing, we also added Roesel's Bush-cricket.
3/7/2014 Cloudy and warm.
Today I met up with a contingent of Wildlife Trust staff looking for sites that may be of use for school educational purposes and of course the Wildflower Meadow was on the agenda. It is looking past its best now with the Yorkshire Fog running to seed but the variety of herbs is still obvious once one sets foot in the field. Lynn found this nursery web and showed me how tickling the web with a grass blade coaxes the parent out to protect her spiderlings.