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Orphan Swift

David R. writes:

Last Sunday evening Jean and I walked down to the churchyard in Shilton where Jean found a baby Swift in the grass. I took it home and put it in a cardboard box in the dark and contacted a friend who gave me the phone number of a lady who lives in the village of Laverton near Broadway. It was quite active in the box at times, scrabbling around.

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Longhorn Beetle

John C writes:

Our annual walk in the Cutsdean area of the Cotwolds on Sunday 18 July. At 30C plus it was very (too!) warm but the compensation was that the butterflies and insects were very active. Everywhere was buzzing as I remember the countryside used to buzz.

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Caucasian Wingnut

Lindsay Hunt writes:

Rather spectacular at the moment is this unusual ornamental specimen tree in Blenheim Park. It stopped me in my tracks on a recent press trip to the Palace as I was walking along the lakeside path between the Boathouse and the Cascades.

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Glowworms

Eleven of the more intrepid of us met at 8:30 pm on 14 July for a ‘crepuscular’ – twilight – walk in the Stonesfield area.

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Emerging Dragonflies

Maggie C writes:

On Wednesday 26 June I shared an exciting morning with my neighbour, and fellow member Jill, in her garden watching Southern Hawker dragonflies emerging from their nymph bodies. The nymphs were attached to the plants surrounding Jill’s pond and Jill found 4 on the same day.  They split their skin and popped out as winged adults.  It took about 3 hours to complete the process so Jill very kindly provided tea and cake while we watched and waited.  Luckily it was a sunny morning.  When we watched one dragonfly leave, we weren’t alone.  A sparrow flew down with amazing speed and nearly had the dragonfly but our shouts of alarm scared it off and the dragonfly lived to see another hour or so (perhaps).

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Belated Lesson in Ladybird Identification

Sue M. writes:

The Lime trees in my road seem to be quite good for insects. Most years I see large Lime Hawk Moth caterpillars on the pavement underneath, and rescue those that haven’t been trodden on. Last year I rescued an Oak Bush Cricket I found strolling down the pavement under the trees.

Lime tree in Hailey Road

The other day, when we found a large number of Ladybird larvae and pupae on the bushy basal shoots of the Limes, I  decided on another rescue mission. About this time of year, the Council come round with noisy machinery and tidy up the trees, and all those Ladybirds would end up in the shredder. So I gathered a small ice cream tub of leaves with larvae and pupae, and a couple of small adults, and released them in my garden. Only after I had done this did I look them up, and discovered that the 3 larvae and some of the pupae were probably Harlequins. I’m pretty sure that the other pupae and the adults were non-Harlequins. Ladybirds are difficult!

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Hackpen Hill and Crowhole Bottom

John C writes:

Fourteen of us got well and truly soaked when we visited this steep chalk-grassland site near Childrey on 7 July 2021. After about half an hour admiring vast numbers of Pyramidal and Common Spotted Orchids halfway up the side of the Devil’s Punchbowl the heavens threw everything they had at us for fifteen or twenty minutes. It was certainly better to go on with the rain at our backs than turn back and face it. By the time we got down to Crowhole Bottom, however, the sun was out again and plenty of Butterflies were active, notably Marbled Whites, several Dark Green Fritillaries and a number of Ringlets. Alas, we didn’t find any of the Green Hairstreaks for which the site is known, but the sharper-eared of us heard the unmistakable ‘wet-my-lips wet-my-lips’ of a Quail in a nearby corn field. Another plentiful species was Yellow-wort, a member of the Gentian/Centaury family. My favourite, however, was the rather glamorous Ichneumon in the picture.

My thanks are due to Malcolm, who knows the site well and who was due to lead us. Unfortunately he was indisposed but kindly gave me comprehensive directions and suggestions.

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Scarlet Tiger Moth

John C. writes:

Lots of Scarlet Tiger moths in my garden in the last few days. The black and yellow caterpillars feed on the comfrey at the bottom of the garden. The underwings are bright scarlet and usually can’t be seen unless they are flying. They are day-flying moths although they seem to prefer to fly in the early evening when they are unmistakable and fly quite high, often circling the tops of trees.

The comfrey flowers are also very popular with bees. Sometimes they enter the tubes for the nectar but quite often bite holes at the base of the petals.

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Greystones Farm

Maggie C writes:

Sixteen members of the club visited Greystones Farm Nature Reserve in Bourton-on-the-Water on 17 June. This is a farmed area of wetland next to the Rivers Eye and Dickler. The old hay meadows are rich in plantlife, including the ‘star’ plant the Southern Marsh Orchid which we saw in abundance. We noticed that some were hybrids with the Common Spotted Orchid also. There is also an interesting archaeology walk devoted to an ancient hillfort. We enjoyed lunch outside the on-site cafe and a good catch-up with old friends and new members alike. Many thanks to Brenda for compiling the species list, which will be listed in full in the club’s autumn newsletter. Other highlights included mating Banded Demoiselles and Thick-legged Flower Beetle.

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Deer Park Wood

Jonathan Noel writes:

On Saturday 5th June on a very hot morning 17 members visited Deer Park Wood in Witney. We had a very interesting introduction to the history and recent activity of the wood from our leader Roger Hepworth and his wife Esther of the Witney Woodland Volunteers (WWV). The land on which the wood stands used to be part of RAF Witney and in 1940 was taken over by De Havilland. During the WW2 Spitfires and Hurricanes were repaired and maintained here. The land is now owned by West Oxfordshire District Council and they have given WWV a ten year agreement to manage the wood. We learnt about ‘old one eye’ a female muntjac living in the wood and her boyfriend ‘split ear’. The movements of the nocturnal animals are recorded on night time cameras and then shown on their website/facebook page. When WWV took over this 11-acre site it was in a sorry state. Since then they have planted hundreds of trees and transplanted wild flowers. The WWV have regular work parties to maintain the wood.