Community Wildlife Area – May 2020

View from The Wildlife Patch

2020 is proving to be a strange year in the Musson Household. We are all “locked down” and somehow, time seems to standing still whilst we wait for life to return to “normal”. Regardless of personal feelings the year is moving on quite rapidly. On “The Wildlife Patch” grass is growing slowly. The Seed mixtures that were chose with care and sown in anticipation are looking a bit sparse and patchy. Maybe now that we have had a ½ day of rain, a bit of warm sun will bring them on a bit.

With early butterflies in evidence I realised that I did not have decent photo of a Male Brimstone Butterfly. -The common name comes from the old name for Sulphur, alluding to the yellow colour of the male. These large, leaf winged, pale yellow/green butterflies can be seen visiting flowers from early April till middle or late May. Females are white with similar, leaf shaped wings. They emerge later in the season than males and can still be on the wing in early June. These Females can be mistaken for Large White (Cabbage) Butterfly to which they are not related. To my mind Brimstones are one of our most beautiful butterflies. There is something very special about the delicate leaf shape and colour, especially the underwing which even has an imperfection by way of a small spot on this “leaf”. Really, this is winter camouflage which enables them to hibernate whilst clinging to the underside of Ivy leaf clusters unseen. If you want to find one hibernating, you will need to take a torch to Ivy plants on a winter night. If you shine your torch on the underside of the Ivy leaves, the butterfly’s wings will reflect the torchlight whilst Ivy leaves stay dull.

Eggs are laid on Buckthorn (which we have in the Watery Lane Hedge). The Caterpillars grow quite large and lie along the centre of the food plant leaf. They are almost impossible to see as the colouration gives the effect that the larva is no more than a bit of extra shadow along the leaf midrib. We have both Buckthorn and Ivy on the wildlife patch so as long as early spring flowers persist we should have Brimstones for a long time. To go back to my photo, I found a really large Brimstone male, lined my shot up and pressed the shutter button. That is when the camera auto focus failed so I still need decent picture of my favourite butterfly.

Elsewhere, the Wildlife Pond is looking good; plants are being added as they turn up on walks or from donations from garden ponds. (no visiting aqua culture centres this year). We have bought some oxygenators and one Lily online which should arrive in May and some money was donated which was used to buy two marsh marigold plants. There are Tadpoles of Common Frog in the pond. These are preyed on by water Boatmen. There is also large round version of Water boatman. This is a species that usually lives in white water rapids (must have got lost). This one swims manically around and also catches tadpoles. We also have a few Pond skaters and some Whirligig Beetles that have flown in. If you have never seen this latter just go to the pond where it will swiftly become evident where they get their common name.

Dave Musson 07942 674867

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