24 keen members met at the RSPB reserve at Northward Hill for our Group trip on Tuesday morning. As we gathered in the car park, huge numbers of rooks and jackdaws circled overhead. A bit unsettling for us as they looked rather like vultures – but I don’t know why they were doing it.
A few small birds such as whitethroat, blackcap, wren and greenfinch sang half-heartedly as we set off along the trail. The breeding season is coming to a close now so the passerines have become more secretive and harder to see -though a chiffchaff was determined to keep going.
We found other animals though. Julie’s sharp eyes soon spotted a beautiful emerald Emperor moth caterpillar – on bramble, its food plant. Gorgeous yellow & black striped cinnabar caterpillars were on every ragwort plant, of which there were plenty. Grasshoppers and crickets were plentiful too, including Roesel’s Bush-cricket that has a high pitched song that only some of us could hear. The butterflies included marbled whites, ringlets and small skippers, but sadly no white-letter hairstreaks on the elms.
All along the path to the cherry orchard we were seeing badger droppings full of cherry stones. (I thought you might like to see a picture!). This encouraged us to think that we might not be too late to get some cherries for ourselves! However, we were disappointed to find that the only cherries left were far too high to reach. How on earth did the badgers get theirs……?
At the top of the Saxon Shore Way path we stopped to enjoy the view and remind ourselves that all this wonderful natural space, a home for nature, could so easily have been concreted over to make an airport!
Thanks to Terry for the photograph of the Emperor moth caterpillar.