Starting at Tescos and soon entering the parish, I ventured to cover both sides of the Ash valley today. From Stocking Wood I took the path along the parish boundary towards Much Hadham G.C. before heading towards Acremore Street and down to the Ford. From hear, after a short break to recharge the camera batteries, I wandered up Chapel Lane, around the back of Caley Wood and back over the golf course footpaths. In all: 36 species of birds and over 45 species of flowering plant were recorded, along with a new species of butterfly for the parish and a new insect from the hemiptera order.
However, the highlight for me was recording the first turtle dove for the parish. One bird, "purring" as I wandered along the footpath south of Bury Green that eventually arrives at Danebridge. A fine sight, unfortunately shielded by vegetation to permit a worthwhile photo. Certainly a declining summer visitor, with only 4 records so far this year for the whole of the Stortford district.
Another new addition to the natural history list was a painted lady butterfly. This, too is a migratory species, moving north from North Africa and the Mediterranean coast. This was an expected sighting this year, with, I suspect, a major invasion underway. I am sure it will become a common sight this summer.
Other birds of note were a pair of bullfinches, linnets, good numbers of house martins and swallows, 5 singing chiffchaffs and 4 singing blackcaps but only 1 whitethroat and no willow warblers were heard or observed.
Plant wise the list is long with many new additions to my list: hedge mustard, ribwort, cat's ear, prickly sow's ear, bladder campion and narrow leaved everlasting pea were a few that I managed to record. Unfortunately, the damp and blustery conditions were not conducive to good plant photography, but I include several here.
A mirus striatus beetle was found on nettles, shown below. A striking insect, visible from May to August.
All in all, a successful day, considering the poor weather conditions. Hopefully a few day's sun will bring out more insects and have the birds singing again.
Photos today show the yellow wood avens plant, the elegant mirus striatus insect, cut leaved crane's bill (pink), bladder campion and the underwings of the painted lady. After half an hour of following and waiting, the insect had still not rested showing its salmon pink upper wings! Shown below are splendid specimens of field poppy and briar rose as well as an unidentified spider and a 7 spot ladybird.