White Admiral butterfly confirmed as Bexley resident

The White Admiral (Limenitis camilla), a very uncommon species in London, with reports from only 3 sites as recently as 2014, has this week been confirmed as present in the Borough of Bexley.  Previous reports from Joyden’s Wood and nearby pointed strongly to this possibility, but with the Bexley/Dartford (London/Kent) boundary passing through the woodland itself, previous observers had been unable to confirm which side of the line their sightings had been made on. It has been an objective of wildlife recorders in the area to clarify the matter during this butterfly season.

Steve Carter had seen a White Admiral in Joyden’s Wood on July 18th and reported it on the ‘Bexley Wildlife’ Facebook page. When quizzed he gave an approximate grid reference which appeared to put him on the main path heading south-east from the Keeper’s Cottage, and was within Bexley. Armed with this information, Bexley Butterfly and Moth Group’s Joe Johnson, Mike Robinson and Chris Rose went in search of further sightings in this area on Saturday July 23rd. In the meantime, Mike had photographed one at the Parsonage Lane end of the wood on July 21st, believing that this too was inside the Bexley boundary.

The weather was somewhat changeable, with periods of no sun, then butterflies taking to the air as soon as it came out again. But we were in luck, seeing a White Admiral in the first area of young coppice by the side of the path that we came to, well within the Bexley boundary. Having never seen one before, it was surprising just how pale this ostensibly black insect appears at a distance when flying in sunlight, a bit like a ‘White’, but not quite.

A few Silver-washed Fritillaries were also seen utilising these recently coppiced areas, a species confirmed as a Bexley resident by Joe only last year, following the same issues over pinpointing the precise position of other sightings of it in relation to the Borough’s border.

Recently coppiced clearings beside pathways are providing ideal habitat for White Admiral, Silver-washed Fritillary and other butterfly species in Joyden's Wood (Photo: Chris Rose)

Recently coppiced clearings beside pathways are providing ideal habitat for White Admiral, Silver-washed Fritillary and other butterfly species in Joyden’s Wood (Photo: Chris Rose)

After Mike and Joe went off elsewhere, Chris headed south along the western margin of the wood towards Parsonage Lane. He saw another White Admiral and a Silver-washed Fritillary flying over the main ride and the lower vegetation on its north side, just beyond the end of the lane and adjacent to Chalk Wood. As far as can be deciphered from the available maps, the Bexley/Kent border runs along the ride itself at this point. Ralph Todd and Ian Stewart had reported seeing a White Admiral at some unspecified point along the margin of Chalk Wood in 2015.

Chris was even more pleased to find 2 White admirals in Gatton’s Plantation, a site he’d never visited before, and which is wholly within Bexley. This rather validates the 2003 record of the species made here by top botanist Mark Spencer, but which the London biodiversity records centre (GiGL) has classed as ‘unverified’.  The woodland here is extremely dense, but with a surprisingly good groundcover. There are, however, three clearings, two better than the other, and in each of these latter one of these insects was intermittently active. At one point the first one encountered landed on some damp mud only about three feet in front of him, but he couldn’t react quickly enough to grab a photo and it was off again. The second of them was still flying at 18.17, though by this time only the east end of its clearing was still in sunshine. There was no sign of Fritillaries here, though the larval foodplant – violets – was present.

Coppiced glades in Gatton's Plantation provide a home for White Admirals. (Photo: Chris Rose)

Coppiced glades in Gatton’s Plantation provide a home for White Admirals. (Photo: Chris Rose)

A map showing the locations of White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary sightings on July 23rd appears below:

Download the PDF file .

 

The next challenge is to see whether the range of either or both species extends further into Bexley, for example at North Cray Wood, Churchfield Wood or even Braeburn Park. The habitat in the former of these looks less promising than in the latter two.

In addition, there are also claims of Brown Hairstreak at Lesnes and in the Woodlands Farm area to be investigated ……

(Chris Rose)

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Danson Park records June 2016

Thanks as always to John Turner for sharing his observations.

Danson Park records 06/03/2016 13/6/16 28/06/16
a.m. a.m. a.m.
Great-crested Grebe 4+1juv 4+1juv 2+3juv
Little Grebe 4 1 3
Cormorant 1 1
Heron 1 1 1
Mute Swan 2+6juv 2+6juv 2+5juv
Canada Geese 32 28 10
 Grey Lag Goose 1
Grey Lag/Canada 1
Egyptian Goose 2 9 1
Mallard 82 49 58+15juv
Tufted Duck 2 3
Pochard
Sparrow Hawk 1
Kestrel
Moorhen 10 5 8+3juv
Coot 20 33+1juv 50+10juv
Black-headed Gull 1
Common Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Herring Gull
Wood Pigeon 19 15 3
Stock Dove 6 2
Collared Dove 1
Ring-necked Parakeet 21 4 1
Kingfisher
Green Woodpecker
Greater-spotted Woodpecker 1
Nuthatch
Pied Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Wren 8 2 4
Dunnock 2
Robin 9 5 3
Blackbird 11 7 4
Mistle Thrush
Song Thrush 2 1
Blue Tit 5 1 1
Great Tit 5 1 1
Coal Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Starling 18
Jay 1
Magpie 1 1
Crow 61 59 28
Jackdaw 1
House Sparrow 3 1
Chaffinch 6 1 1
Greenfinch 2
Goldfinch
Goldcrest 1
Chiff chaff 1 1
Blackcap 4 2 1
Willow Warbler
Swallow
House Martin
Swift 12 6 2
Grey Squirrel 1 2 4
Brown Rat 2 2
Fox
Tortoiseshell
Brimstone
Orange Tip
Large White
Speckled Wood
Common Blue
Comma 1
Small Skipper 1
Emperor 3
Broad-bodied Chaser 1
Common Blue Damselfly lots
Blue-tailed Damselfly lots
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Ruxley Gravel Pits 2015 Bird Report

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House Martins still at home on Shearwood Crescent

The House Martin colony nesting on properties along Shearwood Crescent,  Crayford, next to Perry Street Farm and Stoneham Park, has at least 9 nests this year, of which 3 were in definite use when I had a quick look when passing by on 13th July. Two are under roof overhangs on two-storey buildings and seven are on three-storey ones.

Shearwood Crescent, Crayford. Hose Martins nest on the two and three-storey buildings in the middle distance. (Photo: Chris Rose)

Shearwood Crescent, Crayford. House Martins continue to nest on the two and three-storey buildings in the middle distance. (Photo: Chris Rose)

This building has three House Martin nests on it, in somewhat more vulnerable locations than the others, so it is good to see that they are being welcomed by the residents. (Photo: Chris Rose)

This building right next to the park has three House Martin nests on it, in somewhat more vulnerable locations than the others, so it is good to see that they are being welcomed by the residents. (Photo: Chris Rose)

If you wish to experience House Martins flying around you at head height, then go and stand in the park late on a sunny afternoon.

The species is now amber-listed nationally due to a decline in numbers. The London Bird Report for 2014 records 200 actual or probable breeding efforts at 41 sites in the whole of London. More accurate data will emerge from the ongoing British Trust for Ornithology survey, but the species is thought to be in decline in the capital too.

Other known breeding sites in Bexley are in the Slade Green/Crayford Marshes area and at Chandlers Drive in Erith. We would be interested to hear about any others, and from anyone who lives or visits friends or relatives at the latter site, as it is some time since any counts were done here and previously there was evidence of destruction of nests by residents.

Chris Rose

 

 

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Another important Bexley Wildlife site to be built on.

Disapointed but not surprised by Bexley’s Conservatives giving planning permission on yet another important wildlife site.

Below

  1. Ralph Todd’s verbal presentation.
  2. Visual presentation

they convinced me…

3. The letter sent to those of us who wrote to oppose the application.

Jonathan Rooks

Download the PDF file .

 

Presentation Power Point click on the underlined words to view.

Erith Marshes development

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Posted in Bexley Council, Biodiversity Action Plan, brownfield, Consultations, Crossness, Crossness Nature Reserve, development threat, Erith Marshes, Greater Thames Marshes NIA | Leave a comment

Braeburn Park (LWT) holds first public ‘open day’

London Wildlife Trust held a first public ‘open day’ at its Braeburn Park reserve in Crayford, on July 10th. The weather started off overcast but brightened up. Bexley Council’s new Mayor put in an appearance.

The LWT reserve Open Day gets underway at Braeburn Park. (Photo: Chris Rose)

The LWT reserve Open Day gets underway at Braeburn Park. (Photo: Chris Rose)

The reserve surrounds a modern housing estate. (Photo: Chris Rose)

The reserve surrounds a modern housing estate. (Photo: Chris Rose)

Bird walks took place, and Richard ‘Bug Man’ Jones was on hand to interest local children and adults alike in various invertebrates that they could look at under a microscope. There was face painting for kids, and the Crayford Manor House Astronomy Society’s stand proved popular with many attendees being able to view flares emanating from the surface of the sun through their special telescopes that ensure you don’t damage your eyes in the process.

Braeburn Site Manager Shaun Marriott carries a couple of old stuffed Badgers to the Badger Group's stand. (Photo: Chris Rose)

Braeburn Site Manager Shaun Marriott carries a couple of old stuffed Badgers to the Badger Group’s stand. (Photo: Chris Rose)

Three new butterfly species for the site were added to the Bexley Borough checklist in the shape of Ringlet (which was very numerous), Small Heath and Purple Hairstreak. Green Hairstreak has been seen here before as an adult,  but Richard Jones also found a caterpillar of the species.

The ‘Bug Man’ also found an individual of the scarce fly Ogcodes pallipes, which is a parasitoid of spiders, and is a new site record. The larvae overwinter within a spider host and continue growing the following spring, only causing the host to die just before they emerge to pupate.

It is likely that further such events will be held in future, possibly more than once per year.

(Chris Rose)

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Sidcup Garden Project Newsletter July 2016 events

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Meadows Event at Hall Place Saturday 2nd July 2016

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Nest confirms continued Harvest Mouse presence at Thames Road Wetland

A Harvest Mouse nest was found at Thames Road Wetland on June 20th, whilst cutting vegetation to maintain access along the path on one of the ditch bunds. It was only a couple of inches above ground, and woven into grass leaves that were clearly of 2016 growth, which proves that it was made this year. Several nests of this, Britain’s smallest rodent, and a rarity in London, were found quite unexpectedly in 2014, but none were discovered last year, so it is a joy and a relief to secure confirmation that the species is still present.

This first Harvest Mouse nest was found at Thames Road Wetland in 2014 (Photo: Chris Rose)

This first Harvest Mouse nest was found at Thames Road Wetland in 2014 (Photo: Chris Rose)

In addition, a number of the feeding tubes baited with seed, located where most of the 2014 nests were found, and rigged to make it difficult for Wood Mice to get to them, continue to have their contents reduced to husks after every refill.

The Mark II Harvest Mouse lure (foreground), to be baited with birdseed, is only supported by dead Reed stems, which should increase the chances that usage indicates continued presence of the species, compared with the Mark I version in the background, underslung on a bent over Willow branch, which may have been easier for Wood Mice to get into. (Photo: Chris Rose)

The Mark II Harvest Mouse lure (foreground), baited with birdseed, is only supported by dead Reed stems, which should increase the chances that the usage observed indicates Harvest Mouse feeding compared with the Mark I version in the background, underslung on a bent over Willow branch, which may be easier for Wood Mice to get into. (Photo: Chris Rose)

A rainy morning having given way to a sunny afternoon, a number of basking Common Lizards were seen. A lot of mounded ant’s nests have appeared recently, including in the middle of the lizard basking tyres, which is somewhat unhelpful! A male Reed Bunting was calling. The small group of horses, which now has a young foal, were grazing on the east side of the Wansunt.

As befitted what was almost the longest day of the year, a pair of Swifts turned up late on and were still swooping low over the site at 21.52, when what looked like a male Stag beetle – which would be a new site record – was glimpsed flying in the gloom.

Moon rising over thames Road Wetland, 20/6/16. (Photo: Chris Rose)

Moon rising over thames Road Wetland, 20/6/16. (Photo: Chris Rose)

 

Chris Rose. Site Manager.

 

 

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More Bexley Swift nesting sites identified

According to the latest London Bird report (2014) Swifts have declined by 56% in London between 1995 to 2013. Modern building design and renovations that deny them access to roofs for breeding are thought to be a factor. Few breeding/nesting records were submitted for that year. More work has therefore been done to try and locate further nesting sites in Bexley. This has identified two, possibly three more houses used by the Northall Road/Manor Way birds in Barnehurst, and has found out where the birds around the Stuart Mantle Way area in Erith are nesting.

I went out late on the 12th June to try and find more nesting sites in the Northall Road area, which is difficult as the birds range quite widely and rarely leave the sky – perhaps even less so on an overcast day like this when there may be less food in the air – so you have to be lucky to be in the right place at the right time to see one enter a building. A maximum of 17 or 18 birds were seen together.  At 21.10 it started raining quite hard and the birds quickly disappeared.

A hastily grabbed and digitally-zoomed mobile phone photograph of Swifts sreaming over Northall Road, Barnehurst, on May 4th 2016.  (Chris Rose)

Swifts screaming over Northall Road, Barnehurst, on May 4th 2016. (Chris Rose)

On 13th June 17 birds were seen here. At 21.19 one went up under the eaves of a two-storey house on Hillingdon Road previously suspected of being used for nesting, though it is up on a bank so there is a 2.5 storey drop, and at 21.29 one, possibly two birds went up under the eaves of a two-storey house 17 buildings further up the road, despite the attached property next door having scaffolding erected up to the roof line. Another bird may have gone into the next building along, but a tree obscured my view at the time. The last bird seen in the air was at just after 21.30.

I had previously seen Swifts in numbers around the flats at Stuart Mantle Way, Erith, some four years ago. On 14th June a maximum of 7 birds were seen at once. However, 5 individuals were seen going to presumed nests, one in each of the five blocks of flats towards the east end of the road, so it may be there were more birds around somewhere. It transpired that they were entering air bricks above the windows. On 3-storey blocks they were using the ones above 2nd storey windows, and on the 4-storey blocks the ones above the 3rd storey windows. One or two Swifts were still flying at 21.18.

Flats off Stuart Mantle Way in Erith. Swifts were seen entering air bricks above windows on all five blocks. (Photo: Google street view)

Flats off Stuart Mantle Way in Erith. Swifts were seen entering air bricks above windows on all five blocks. (Photo: Google street view)

The Swift count for these sites in May 2012 (before there would have been any young) was 29 and 13 respectively. I don’t think I have have any more recent counts for Stuart Mantle Way, and my Northall Road area counts for the past few years are still buried in notebooks and not  yet spread-sheeted.

Presumed nesting sites this year have also been recorded for the Belvedere village group of Swifts (just off Nuxley Road), in a roof in Birkbeck Road, Sidcup and in Northumberland Heath (Mill Road) where only 2 or 3 Swifts have been seen together.

Other concentrations of Swifts for which no nesting sites have yet been identified are the Danson Park group, and those in the Upper College farm area. Doubtless there are more.

Chris Rose

Posted in Bexley, Bird watching, Recording, Swift | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments