Much of this month’s bird news is about Swifts, which started arriving around 3rd (Pam, Clarke, Becky) and by the end of the month, were sitting on eggs. Rosemary was delighted by a big flock of Swallows at Trumpington Meadows. A Cuckoo stayed in Paradise for a few days (Guy) and a Whinchat visited the reserve at Trumpington Meadows – the first record there (Becky).
Meanwhile Grey Wagtails are nesting at Byron’s Pool (Mo, Paul) and a Ring-necked Parakeet was spotted at Wandlebury (Ionathan): out of our area but this is the second local report. At Eddington, a pair of Little-Ringed Plovers were seen and a first summer male Black Redstart at Hobson’s Park (Bob). Jeff reports the rare sight of a Goshawk on 24th – a sub-adult male displaying over St Cat’s playing field, which then gained height before diving into cover on Grantchester Meadows.
Curiosities of the month were Jill’s Semi-Free Morel Fungus – Mitrophora semilibera in Grange Road, on rough bare ground where spruce had been removed : damp, with a thick surface layer of fallen spruce foliage. Then at Bolton’s Pit Lake, Melissa and Ed found a tube of Eggs on a drifting twig: but whose were they?? (Answer at the end.) Meanwhile in the Botanic Garden lake, Rhona saw a Great Diving Beetle with 2 juvenile Freshwater Limpets attached to its wingcase.
It has been a good year for Woundword Shieldbug with large hatches and mating pairs (Paul). In the Sanctuary reserve, was a Cream-Streaked Ladybird – one of our more unusual ladybirds: Ionathan also reported one.
Here also an Iris Sawfly was resting on sedge, but next door to its food plant (Yellow Flag). One recent addition to the fauna of Cambridge is the Elm Zig-zag Sawfly (Aproceros leucopoda). This species arrived in Europe from Asia in 2003 and reached Britain in 2017. It is now fairly widespread in south-east England and East Anglia and is considered a significant threat to our native elm trees. The larvae make a distinctive zig-zag feeding pattern on Elm leaves (Rhona).
Dragonflies and Damselflies are beginning to emerge and Lottie snapped a female Broad-bodied Chaser at Newnham College. Mayflies are also appearing – I watched one rising from the surface of the Cam, only to be immediately snatched by a Mallard.
The City Council manage the nature reserves in Newnham and organised Electrofishing of Vicar’s Brook: a small stream connecting Hobson’s Conduit to the Cam. It is a chalk stream and the plan is to improve it for Fish, so this was a base-line survey. Ten species were found: Minnow, Stickleback, Gudgeon, Dace, Roach, Stoneloach, Pike Trout, Chubb and Bullhead. They were mainly juveniles, so it is a nursery area in spring. However, 2 small mature Brown Trout and a Jack Pike (small pike) were also found (Guy).
For me, it has been an excellent month – Paradise turned up my first Grass Snake sightings for many a year. An metre-long adult spent about 20 minutes hiding in the bank to avoid the attentions of a Moorhen and 2 half-grown chicks. When it finally slipped out, it was pursued by them, the parent bird actively pecking until it disappeared downstream. The next day, another smaller grass snake was sunbathing on a willow trunk.
Fulbourn Fen is always a hot-spot for Orchids. Early Marsh Orchids were just starting to flower (Gleb, Paul) as well as Common Twayblades and Southern Marsh Orchid. June should be a good month for a visit. White Helleborines were also in flower at Beechwood Reserve and Nightingale Recreation Ground, while in a verge near Addenbrookes were Bee Orchid rosettes (Gleb). Jonathan reports Marsh Thistle and Common Valerian on the Accordia site during the Cambridgeshire Flora Group visit: possibly escapes from the Botanic Garden.
Chesterton Community College, Gilbert Rd have a Nature Explorers club held in an area of the school grounds called ‘The Dip’ – an inaccessible wild area beyond the tennis courts (Ben). A new pond has been created in the sunny area. The trail cam has shown that a Badger, two Foxes and a Hedgehog are among the Dip’s mammalian visitors. Common Frog and Smooth Newt have been seen and it’s rumoured that Slowworms may be around, so a pile of woodchips has been made to encourage them. If confirmed, this would be exciting news, as they have not been reported from any other sites in the City.
Many thanks for all other sighting and pictures. Ed and Melissa’s eggs belonged to the Great Pond Snail.
Olwen Williams firstname.lastname@example.org