History Notes Update July 2009
the wet summers of 2007 and 2008, despite very varied temperatures
the summer of 2009 so far has been fairly dry, as any keen gardener
will tell you. A third wet summer would have been disastrous for
many insects, particularly butterflies. Of the common garden species
seen in the spring, Speckled Wood, Orange Tip and Green-veined
White butterflies were seen in reasonable numbers, although only
a few Holly Blues were seen in the village. In early spring the
rookery behind houses on the east side of York Road had expanded.
The noise, particularly in the evening, was tremendous.
At the end
of May, two White Helleborines flowered close to the edge of the
bowling green in East Hagbourne. These plants are relatively common
native orchids, but it was nice to see them growing successfully
in such a position. They have now formed fat seed pods.
and buzzards continue to be seen frequently, and yellowhammers
have returned to the area beyond the end of Manor Close after
an absence of two years. Another species that has returned is
the corn bunting. Its ‘jangling keys’ sound is unmistakable. In
June, a hobby was seen hunting swifts at the east end of the village.
This is probably the only bird of prey capable of catching swifts.
Due to the loss of suitable nesting sites, there are now less
seen in the village, but they remain a common sight until the
end of July, when they return to Africa for the autumn and winter
At the end
of May there was a large influx of Painted Lady butterflies all
over the country. These originate from N. Africa and will have
laid eggs all over the UK. When the imagos (adults) emerge in
late summer, there should be very large numbers present in our
the end of June and in early July, there were large
numbers of a spectacular day-flying moth, the Scarlet
Tiger. Although seen in small numbers in the village
for several years, this year was exceptional, almost
a hundred being seen near the junction of the two
‘legs’ of York Road (see images).
Tiger moths mating
June and early July many Comma butterflies (see
image) were seen in the village, as well as occasional
Small Tortoiseshells. Further afield, in some Oxfordshire
woodlands, the rare Purple Emperor and uncommon
Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral butterflies
are having population explosions.
female Green woodpecker (alone and feeding juveniles)
woodpeckers continue to breed in or around the village
(see images, taken at 14, Manor Close in early July).
An adult female was seen feeding two juveniles with
their favourite food – ants.
the local mammals, squirrels and moles continue
to be seen occasionally. The mole illustrated
was captured in a plastic bucket on the lawn
at 14, Manor Close.
12 July 09
photos by Malcolm Brownsword)
If you have
any comments, requests or observations concerning the flora and
fauna of the village, please get in touch with one of us, and
we will include them in the next update.
Malcolm Brownsword 01235 850668
Phillip Smith 01235 850618
See also Nature walks in and around
West Hagbourne which describe four circular walks in and around
the village and the wildlife you might see.