Grasshopper Warblers belong to a group of warblers with the name of Locustella. This latter indicates a link with grasshoppers and results from the call that the bird makes. It is thought to be an example of convergent evolution where two separate species have adopted the same sound. Grasshopper warblers can continue making the same reeling sound for over four minutes without ceasing and there are records of them singing nearly all night without pausing. They are able to do this because the voice box or syrinx operates both on and in and out of breath. Sound pulses are generated at something like two per second. The ventriloquial quality of the sound makes it difficult to locate the bird by predators.
We are especially privileged in our home area to have woodland with dramatic displays of Bluebells.
There has been concern in recent years that our native Bluebell is hybridising with the introduced Spanish Bluebell. The latter is taller in habit, the flower is more upright and less drooping than the native Bluebell. It is not uncommon to find clonal patches of white bluebells which are entirely natural.
Keep an eye out for any hybrids and we would be interested to receive your pictures of Bluebell Woodland to display.
The Hebrew Character Moth has been turning up regularly in light traps this month. What wonderful names these moths have! This one is so-called because of the mark on the forewings which is said to resemble the character in the Hebrew alphabet Nun.
Common Hawthorn or May (Crataegus monogyna another Rosaceae member.)
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Water Moss. This is the largest species of British Mosses and is entirely aquatic. It can be found growing in clumps in the Stort,Ash and tributaries where it forms dark green masses which can be confused with blanket weed. It typically likes areas where water is flowing faster such as waterfalls but can be found growing on the concrete side of locks and weirs. Its name which is Fontinalis antipyretica- ‘against fire’may have its origins as a use as an insulating and fireproof material in house walls in Lapland. Thanks to AS.
The adult takes nectar from sallow and the Caterpillar feeds on a variety of low growing plants such as dandelions and docks.
This is a new bumblebee to the country and was not recorded here before 2001. It first made its appearance in Wiltshire and is steadily spreading all over the country. There is a national programme to monitor its progress.
It seems that at least part of the bee’s success is due to the fact that its natural habitat is open woodland interspersed with grassland. This in fact is a fairly good description of established housing estates with large gardens which quite rightly qualify as ‘scrub’ in habitat terms! The bees nest high up under the eaves of a house, out of harms way, and when the males embark on a dancing ‘swarm’ then it can be quite spectacular but gives cause for concern to others who are not naturalists. Please let us have any records of this bumblebee that you may have.