Nature Report July

Sickleholme Nature Notes

July was a quieter month for our wildlife, if only in as much as most of the birds had stopped singing and only a couple of the Chiffchaffs were still in full voice by the end of the month. Most species were busy feeding young, or coaching fledged birds, and this was a feature of the course. Pied Wagtails really enjoy the close mown fairways, the young Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen again, a few juvenile Mistle Thrushes were reported and young tits of several species were easy to see. The cries of young Kestrels, from the copse south of the barn, also suggests successful breeding in that undisturbed area.

Overhead, the Swift flock around the 1st tee reached about 30 in number, a family party of four Ravens was notable and on most days a young Buzzard could be heard, if not always seen, as it harassed its parents for food.

There was plenty of colour around the course. The Harebells that I highlighted last month were easy to find (in front of the 9th tee and near the 5th tee seemed to be the largest patches) but were dwarfed by the bright purple flowers of Betony. Rosebay Willowherb came into flower, the ladies reported a few Common Spotted Orchids near one of their tees and the taller (strikingly sky-blue again!) flowers are Chicory.

The ten species of butterfly recorded to the end of June grew by two more, with a decent showing of Gatekeeper and a single Small Skipper although the commonest species around the course remained Meadow Brown. Surprisingly, still no Red Admiral reported and disappointingly no Painted Lady. August probably represents the last chance to see either and the latter is special since it weighs less than one gram and yet will have flown c1500 miles to reach us, starting from Morocco.

Those venturing into the rough will undoubtedly have flushed several small micro moths, which seem to disappear when landing as they cling to the side of grass stalks. At least two, probably three, species are involved but apart from the collective name of “grass moths”, they only have Latin names and I think it too early to inflict that on you! Most moths only fly at night but I did see one macro moth, the day-flying Chimney Sweeper.

Still no sign of any dragonflies (I must try the water by the practice area) but several of us were entertained by a large Toad which appeared disgruntled to find us encroaching on its territory in the ditch to the left of the 8th fairway.

I do hope that you saw and enjoyed at least some of the course’s wildlife wealth during the month.

Bryan Barnacle