Birds and Butterflies

Wickford Wildlife Society:

We met a group from the Wickford Wildlife Society yesterday. They were very knowledgeable on Birds, Insects, Butterflies, Wildflowers, Raptors(Hawks and Owls) and Trees. We are going to meet with them for future projects. Very enjoyable- thank you very much😊

The following report is from Martin from the Wickford Wildlife who is an expert on Birds and Butterflies, absolutely fascinating.

Birds and Butterflies:

It is now late spring and a great time to go out and see wildlife. All of our summer migrant birds have now arrived and butterflies can also be seen on the wing plus, we will soon start seeing dragonflies and damselflies. Along the river and in Giddings Copse, you will hear Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs singing – these are short distance migrants only going to Spain or North Africa for the winter and they are the first warblers back here in the spring. Longer distance migrants such as Common Whitethroats plus Swifts and Swallows are also here now. It’s hard to imagine that these small birds fly across the Sahara desert to get here but they all do! Whitethroats will sing from brambles where they nest but are often seen perched on top of these too. Swifts are seen on clear days screeching around, especially in the evenings when they feed at lower levels. Swallows will feed above the trees along the river and even across the fields. There are also plenty of resident birds to see too, Blackbirds and Robins are in the hedgerows and scrub together with Dunnocks.

One bird seen this week that may be breeding here is a Linnet – a lovely bird of the countryside. Other birds to look for are Blue Tits, Great Tits and Long Tailed Tits which are very common in this area. In the fields you will see Magpies, Crows and Woodpigeons and you could be lucky in the early morning and see a Green Woodpecker on the ground feeding on ants. Its cousin the Great Spotted Woodpecker will be in the woodlands but hard to see at the top of the trees, unless you see it in flight. Also in the woodlands are Song Thrushes, again more often heard than seen especially in the evenings when other birds have stopped singing. Along the river if you are very lucky you might see a Kingfisher speeding past with his high-pitched piping call – that is always a great sight.

Butterflies seen already in Beauchamps Fields this year are Orange Tip, Brimstone, Small White, Peacock, Red Admiral and Speckled Wood. Holly Blue and Common Blue should be emerging in better weather together with Gate Keeper, Ringlet and Meadow Brown. One species to look out for is the Marbled White. This was quite a rare butterfly in Essex at one stage, confined to Hadleigh Downs in our area but has spread, possibly due to climate change, and is breeding in many areas of Wickford. It would be a good record if found here.

Along the river, June should see dragonflies and damselflies emerging. Azure and Common Blue damselflies will be the most common but it’s hard to tell them apart unless you see them close and with binoculars. However, there is a real beauty on the river – the Banded Demoiselle. This is an iridescent metallic green large damselfly with a distinct black band in the wings. If you find one resting on bankside vegetation it is well worth a good look. An early dragonfly to look out for will be the Common Darter – a red dragonfly that you can often see on the ground resting in the sun.

There is lots to see in spring, so get out there and if you see anything unusual take a photo and let everyone know.

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