June already? It seems like the Bluebells and first Chiffchaffs were just yesterday but Spring is already now a distant memory and we have reached the halfway point of the year and Winkworth is bursting with life - so much so it's hard to know where to start with this blog post...
The arboretum is now teeming with fledgling birds, with young Wrens, Robins, Tits and Blackbirds all over the place. There are many birds still busy feeding young in the nest though, like the pair of Treecreepers I discovered on the 8th carrying food into the wall of the boathouse where I could hear the nestlings squeaking away.
The waterbirds too are at varying stages in the breeding process. As I have mentioned before there are now many ducklings of both Mallard and Mandarin to be seen on Rowe’s Flashe Lake and the four Canada goslings are growing bigger by the day. We now have three Little Grebe nests - two towards the southern end of the lake and this one in the channel in the north-east corner.
Rowe’s Flashe also remains the best place to see a Grey Wagtail in the arboretum, as there are usually at least two around, although I still haven’t confirmed breeding of this species here this year. I did manage to film this male having a bit of a preen in an Alder by the boathouse though on the 10th.
Always one of the latest summer migrant birds to return to our shores, and now sadly an increasingly uncommon sight in Surrey, it’s always a welcome occasion when one stumbles across a Spotted Flycatcher. I had caught a glimpse of one down in Furze Field on the 4th but thought perhaps that was just a bird passing through on its way further north. Then last week I’d thought I heard one calling in the vicinity of the tearoom but discounted it, but on the morning of the 11th I decided to investigate further and sure enough found this one high up in the Oaks on the front lawn, singing intermittently and living up to its name by sallying back and forth from various perching points and catching flying insects. It was still there as of this morning (15th) although so far no sign of a mate.
On the 15th while carrying out the morning site check I flushed a Cuckoo from long grass along the top path out to Sorbus Hill; only about the third time I've actually seen one here this year. It's good to know they're still around as I haven't been hearing much of the singing male recently. It's likely the pair we saw in Phillimore last month will have bred by now and there could well be a young Cuckoo in a nest already being fed by an unsuspecting host bird somewhere in the arboretum.
Ravens have been seen a couple of times this month - three flew north first thing on the 4th, while on the 9th I managed to get a 'blink and you'll miss it' bit of footage of the one which circled low over the Magnolia Wood area for a short while.
Talking of the Foliage Glade, I grabbed this bit of film of one of our wild Honey-bee colonies in a Scot’s Pine in this area of the arboretum the other day. The bees are becoming very active now, particularly the one in the boathouse.
On the 5th I noted two Crossbills flying north over the Badger’s Bowl – the first time I’ve recorded this species here. After a brief intermission since the dispersal of the large flock that wintered at Winkworth the calls of Siskins have become a commonly heard sound again recently and I suspect there may be some breeding somewhere in the vicinity of the Foliage Glade.
In terms of butterflies we are now into the ‘June Gap’ so there hasn’t been all that many of late, this not helped by the often strong and chilly breeze. Nonetheless it's been good to see a few Small Heaths around in Rowe's Flashe Meadow as well as the first Meadow Browns of the year on the 15th.
There have been a few nice moths around though, with Small Magpie, Pale Oak Beauty, Straw Dot, Burnet Companion and the migratory Silver Y all seen in the past few days, amongst others.
Small Magpie (Anania hortulata)
Pale Oak Beauty (Hypomecis punctinalis)
Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis)
Silver Y (Autographa gamma)
Dragonflies and damselflies are becoming a more regular sight now, with Beautiful Demoiselle, Broad-bodied Chaser and others seen recently - it was nice to stumble across this pair of Blue-tailed Damselflies in a copulation wheel by Rowe’s Flashe Lake on the 4th.
On the 15th I saw my first Slow-worm of the year, along the Spring Walk - thanks to fellow gardener Giles for spotting this one!
Meanwhile, a Common Toad was seen loitering near the public toilets on the 8th...
On the wild flower front there really is so much to see now so I may do a separate post on that at some point, but very worthy of note here are the Common Spotted Orchids which are really starting to put on a great show all around the arboretum.
There have been several Stoat sightings in the arboretum recently, generally in the vicinity of Rowe's Flashe Lake. I've not seen one here yet but hope to soon - keep your eyes peeled if you're visiting!
Anyway, that's about it for now, otherwise you'll all be falling asleep. Here's a couple of shots of Buff-tailed Bumblebee on Comfrey to finish.