Saturday, 2 April 2016

It's All Happening !!

It's an exciting time in Badock's Wood. Because of the beautiful weather we can even take a risk and 'Cast a clout'. This couple on the path going from Playing Field to the Triangle did just that on 31st March; and the forecast says that the next few days should be just as good in our area. Before you risk 'casting a clout' read here.
The sun and warmth bring out not only the flowers but insects are becoming more active too.

This Peacock butterfly was in the meadow and waited patiently for me to finish taking photos. What a magnificent creation !!  Apart from the wonderful colours, you can imagine those dark circles being huge eyes frightening off a predator. The underside of the wings are quite the opposite. They are dull brown and when it folds its wings they look like dead leaves and well camouflaged. I was surprised to see it so early in the Spring but if you would like to know more click here.

 The Friends of Badock's Wood have organised a Butterfly & Bug walk for Sunday May 29th.  It's worth putting that in your diary because there are always things to see and interesting facts at these events. More details below.
There is a program of walks throughout the year and the next one is very soon. There's a Spring Flower walk on Sunday April 10th. This is well timed because the blue bells should be well advanced by then and there are already wood anemone, garlic flowers, primroses, cowslips and beautiful banks of celandine. As well as seeing some of the more well know plants it is interesting to learn the names of some of the less well known flowers in the wood and some that you might not even notice as you walk through.

 Pigeons might not be the most exciting of birds but I was very pleased to get a photo of this one. It's a Stock Dove. At first sight it could easily be mistaken for a juvenile wood pigeon or a feral pigeon but has a very different call. Although I have heard it in the woods many times I have not been able to identify one until this week. There were two on a tall dead stump between the Lake and the stream. The Wood Pigeon is the most common pigeon in the wood but there are also feral pigeon, stock dove and collard dove. The adult wood pigeon has white on the neck and wings and is easy to distinguish but the others are more tricky. However, they all have very different calls. Listen to Stock Dove and Wood Pigeon.
If you are interested to see the different types click here. The Turtle Dove is a beautiful bird but unfortunately not commonly seen now in the UK. It does however visit Southern Britain.

I am often amazed that anything can live in the pond in the meadow and when I saw frog spawn last week I thought it might not survive but certainly up to now it continues to develop. You can see in this photo that the tadpoles are developing. You can clearly see the tail and that the front end is swollen where the front legs will eventually pop out behind the head. I watched carefully without seeing any movement but perhaps you will see them wriggling as time goes by. Metamorphosis is one of the Wonders of Nature; tadpoles into frogs and caterpillars into moths or butterflies. There are several videos on Youtube illustrating the life cycle of the frog but this one is interesting tadpole - frog. 
Of course toads and newts also produce spawn and tadpoles but the toad spawn will be in strings rather than in clumps like frog spawn, whereas newts lay individual eggs attached to vegetation. Now is the time to look out for spawn around the edges of ponds and streams and try to distinguish the various sorts. I didn't know that a tadpole is sometimes called a pollywog or porwigle in British English.... (Wikipedia).

The metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly is just as fascinating and every butterfly or moth you see, including the peacock above, will have been through this process. see here.

Spring and Autumn are times of change and one of those changes is the departure of some migratory birds and the arrival of others. One that we are now seeing is the Chiffchaff. It arrives from the Mediterranean and West Africa. It has a distinctive call which gives its name. Listen here.
However I saw the bird in the photo during the week and wondered if it was a Willow Warbler which looks very similar. Unfortunately I didn't hear it call which would have been the clincher.
Listen here Willow Warbler.

I sent the photo into iSpot and 2 experienced birders thought it was probably a chiffchaff and 3 thought it was probably a Willow Warbler.  I should have been more patient and hoped that it would call. I know that to many people it is just an lbb (little brown bird) !!


Friends of Badock's Wood events

  • Spring Flower Walk: Sunday Apr 10th 2pm.  meet at Doncaster Rd  Entrance.
  • River Sampling: Sunday Apr 17th 2pm. meet by the bamboo at the Triangle where the two streams meet.
  • Bird Walk: Sunday May 1st 10am. meet at Doncaster Rd Entrance.

If you would like to occasionally help with wildlife conservation in a work group please contact . The next activity  on Sat Apr 9th will be to remove some of the Spanish bluebells in order to favour the native ones.

You can join in with litter clearance by emailing and I will send you more information.

FOBW website here.

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Stop press
I have been assured by an experience ecologist that the bird pictured above is a Willow Warbler. This is great news and I shall be listening for it in future.  Thank you Matt.

mike townsend

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