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June 2011



White Admirals and Sparrowhawks in the Wood   

 June and July are the key times to find White Admirals in Old Park Wood and it is a good site for this uncommon butterfly. It is a woodland specialist, liking sunny glades and rides with bramble flowers to feed on and honeysuckle to lay its eggs. It is a “late emerger”  reaching the butterfly stage comparatively late in the summer, the pupa having overwintered wrapped up in a honeysuckle leaf. The butterflies are essentially black and white and have a strong flight with wings flicked stiffly.  In previous years they have been common along the main track around the entrance to Limberlost wood and the main track is a good place to look, wherever there are brambles in flower. Like many species the White admiral benefits from a woodland management that creates sunny areas for basking and flowers to open – cutting back bracken, coppicing along rides and glade widening.


For me, one of the most noticeable effects of re-establishing coppicing in areas of Crow Wood has been an increase in the number and variety of insect species of all kinds. …and this has an impact on bird and reptile populations. Although migration this year has been very poor, I am still very hopeful that the Spotted Flycatchers that nested last year will return this year and if they do it’s a fair bet they will take a few butterflies. C’est la vie. But I will be a little cross if the Sparrowhawks have them for breakfast, delighted as I am to have them nesting again in a tall Scots Pine, nowadays a flycatcher is a much rarer animal altogether and a species that is really struggling.




Heath Spotted Orchid, Crow Wood
Heath Spotted Orchid, Crow Wood
A Crab Spider on the bloom of a Devils Scabious, Crow Wood.

Usually white, they are very small and can be found on flowers in summer waiting for flies to drop by. This one was sitting on Devils Bit Scabious, a plant of damp, open rides and great for insects, that flowers in July.


Oak Bush Cricket, Crow Wood.

A common cricket of late summer that spends most of its life in Oak trees just munching leaves.



A Spotted Flycatcher, Crow Wood.

A summer migrant that like the cuckoo is getting rare in this country now. This bird was one of a pair that tried to nest in 2008 but failed. I have not seen any in Old Park Wood this year, which is very worrying. It is a government Biodiverisity Action Plan (BAP) species and populations are being monitored.

Tatty Silver Washed Fritillary, Crow Wood.

A fast flying woodland specialist, that needs wood violets to lay its eggs and so benefits when woodland is coppiced. On the wing in July and August but not common, and difficult to spot as it rarely rests for long.


A Tiger Beetle, Crow Wood.

Likes sitting in the sun, mimics the colours of a wasp to deter predators but is harmless.


A White Admiral, Crow Wood.

A late summer butterfly that  needs honeysuckle to feed from and lay eggs on. It likes sunny rides so the best place is the main track north of Limberlost although it occurs in small numbers all over the wood.

It benefits from  the coppicing and ride clearance that encourages its food plant to grow.




A Glow Worm, Crow Wood

Glow-worm -  seen around the wood in clearings anywhere in Old Park Wood – still, dark nights in Late June are the best time to look. It’s the female that glows to call in males. This one was on a coppiced stump on mid-summer night.




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