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This section will be a notebook for recording interesting & unusual flora and fauna on the Allotment Site and in the adjacent Westborough Woods.
Contributions very welcome.
Pleased to report that Stag Beetles and Slow Worms are still thriving on site.
The Green Woodpecker population is still doing well - very audible and for the patient gardener, often seen on the open ground as well as clattering about in the woodland margins.
Foxes frequently seen around the site and often in broad daylight.
We have a burgeoning rodent population as often evidenced by bodily remains left by foxes and cats as well as the trails of droppings in Garden Sheds and tunnels in Compost Bins.
Not the best of years for Butterflies and Moths but all the usual species still around although maybe not in as great numbers or at the usual times of years either.
Luckily those Sparrowhawks flew off a while ago never to return and the local small bird population seems to have recovered.
Sorry folks but our regular correspondent "Old Twitcher" went into hibernation. So sadly no regular updates to publish.
2010 was an odd year in terms of weather/climate conditions which dramatically altered the growing season for Allotment Gardeners likewise the annual cycles of wildlife and flora.
To be continued...............
Very bad year for Butterflies. Poor Spring weather the conditions meant that the first brood of many native species was pretty thin and not much to be seen. By July, the time of the second brood, things had improved thanks to warmer weather & longer sunnier periods. Some of our sightings include: Peacocks; Tortoiseshells; Commas, Meadow Browns; Gatekeepers, Speckled Woods and the Gardener's favourite, the Large White (Cabbage White). Not personally seen a Red Admiral yet but maybe with a little late Summer sunshine we will
Stag beetles - are still around and female specimens have been found in the Oakfields Garage block next to the Woodland Margins and in gardens adjacent to the Allotment Site.
Ciroceris Asparagi - this is a local treasure. This little beetle as the name might suggest lives on Asparagus plants. There are only 4 species of such beetles in the whole of Western & Central Europe and we have one resident on the Aldershot Road Allotment Site. Quite small and the beetle grubs/larvae even smaller, they don’t do that much damage to your Asparagus crop.
Devils Coach Horse - one of the authors favourites. This is the long thin black beetle whose younger specimens resemble a shiny black earwig. These thrive in compost heaps and piles of decaying organic matter. When disturbed, they raise their tails and emit a strong smell – on large adult specimens the white scent glands can be seen extending from the tail. Cats & Dogs hate the scent and quickly back off. Although the adult beetles have very large pincer like jaws, you’re unlikely to get close enough to get a nip – the beetle will normally have scurried off into the undergrowth as soon as you disturb it.
Slowworms & Snakes
Since the Council’s contractors felled trees and removed several grass piles from the Allotment Boundary strip when erecting the Security fence, we have not seen the return of our local Grass Snakes – yet. Sincerely hope they have relocated on site somewhere. Pity that the Council Projects Dept regards grass heaps as rubbish which in fact are the homes for several wildlife species.
Fewer Slow-worms observed this year. Old Twitcher (our amateur Nature buff) has spotted a few a dead adults on the Allotment paths early mornings – probably escapees from Foxes and our resident Sparrowhawk. “Nature red in tooth & claw etc” but hope the local population is strong enough to recover. Again removing their natural homes like Grass Heaps and piles of old leaves hasn’t helped.
Field Mice & Dormice – if you store crops in your shed you will have seen the Field Mice’s’ toothmarks, also on your sunflowers and sweet corn if you’re unlucky. Fortunately they don’t do that much damage.
Rats -we’ve had a lot of rats in recent months which has kept the local fox and cat community busy and entertained. Not good for stored crops as they will eat and foul anything they find and worse still, leave large black peanut-sized droppings in your shed and urinate all over the place. Rats urine frequently carries Weill’s Disease – which can cause severe liver & kidney problems in humans and can be fatal to pets. Best wash anything thoroughly which may have been near a rat run and don’t encourage them on site by leaving domestic foodstuffs and household waste on your Allotment Plot. Luckily they have lots of natural predators so we’re unlikely to be overrun and have to call a Pied Piper along.
Let us know if you spot anything of interest - happy to check it out anytime
Old Twitcher has swapped his binos, tea flask & notebook for RayBans, Pina Coladas & the Racing Post and migrated (temporarily)South West for the holidays.
Lots to report when he gets back - meanwhile watch out for that Sparrowhawk.
ALLOTMENT WATCH Feb to mid-March 2008
Not the best of times for Wildlife spotters but as we roll inexorably into Spring, birds become more visible and more audible as the daytime increases.
Pleased to see a Heron early Easter Saturday heading West which later was spotted in the Pond at Wood St Village.
Ignoring the resident Crow, Magpie & Pigeon population on the Allotment Site, we've seen: Green Woodpeckers; Blue Tits; Great Tits; Bullfinches; Chaffinches; Nuthatches; Robins; Thrushes; Blackbirds & Dunnocks. In the borders with Westborough Woods, we've sighted a Goldcrest and what seemed to be a Warbler (type yet to be identified).
Digging over plots unearths a wealth of Insect life - ground Beetles, Devils Coach-horses, Earwigs, Millipedes & all manner of over-wintering Beetle larva.
Around the site, there is lots of evidence of our fox community and if your shed door doesn't quite shut, you'll have noticed the droppings of curious rodent size visitors.
RSPB "BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH" 26-27 January 2008
RSPB are asking everyone (not just members) to note down the birds they see in their garden or local park during one hour on either of these two dates.
This would be useful for our Allotment campaign supporting our long-held view that the unused area and the Woodland Margins (under threat of Housing) is a valuable wildlife site.
So if your garden is close to the Allotments or backs on to the Woods, this is your a chance to help the RSPB & WBDRA. Allotments tenants can legitimately do the survey on the Allotment Site.
If you haven't had a form through the post or found one in a magazine (Radio Times etc), you can enter results online on the RSPB website: www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch
DECEMBER 07 & JANUARY 08
Not good months normally for Nature Lovers.
Digging over Allotment plots always turns up interesting things. Hidden in old Greens & Weeds are Moth Caterpillars which are usually pretty fat at this time ready for an early Spring transformation - Hebrew Character & Angle Shades (juicy green ones) in abundance. The Cabbage Moth - often mistaken for a Leatherjacket - is in abundance too but very destructive of any over wintering plants.
Bird Life gets more interesting into January. Throughout November/December, the most commonly observed species are Magpies, Crows, Blackbirds, Wood Pigeons and the Gardeners Friend, the Robins in their splendid red winter waistcoats. Green Woodpeckers occasionally hopped down to forage and although you can hear many different songbirds in the Dawn Chorus, they're not easily spotted.
Very pleased to see Greenfinches swooping around and just after Christmas, the sighting of a Goldcrest in the trees on the border of the Site & Broadacres. We should soon start to see more Finches and Tits - and if we're lucky, glimpse a nesting Wren or two.
As @ 12/01/2008
LAST DAY OF SEPTEMBER
Probably the last Red Admiral of the year seen sunning itself on Plot 64.
As @ 30/09/07
Last knockings for most Butterflies this month and only a few late brood Cabbage Whites seen fluttering around looking for a mate and some uneaten Brassicas.
Grass Snakes and Toads spotted down towards the Oakfields end and several young Slow-worms woken up when grass cutting the pathways around Plots 64,65, 66 & 67.
Foxes pretty active around the Wooded areas.
As @ 16-09-07
Page Last Updated - 27/12/2011