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Wednesday 12th to Thursday 20th April

Wednesday 12th April 2017:
Visited the Common early afternoon and undertook a walk around the Cook's Garden Centre side.  The weather was mild and cloudy.  Whilst walking around the Broom scrub a ♂ Emperor moth that was patrolling landed a short distance away and perched up for a long period of time.  This was great to see, especially as I hadn't used a pheromone lure this visit.  Also of note during the walk were 2 Comma and a ♀ Orange Tip.

Emperor Moth (Saturnia pavonia)

Thursday 13th April 2017:
The temperature was cooler for today's visit and the sky was overcast.  I walked a circuit from Lower Poolands car park, during which I observed ♂ Emperor moths patrolling in 2 locations.    In the broom scrub at the south end of what was the plantation there was a Common Green Lacewing present.  A 7-spot Ladybird was also noted.

Common Green Lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea)

Friday 14th April 2017:
It was warm and sunny on the Common today but sadly I only had chance for a very brief visit as I had prior engagements.  To maximise my visit I walked a number of the tracks through the gorse scrub at the northern end of the common.  Here I recorded my first site Speckled Wood of the year and also 2 Common Heath moths.

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)

Saturday 15th April 2017:
I had a fairly uneventful visit to the Common today with the only highlight being a single Swallow over heading west.  Also, a ♂ Emperor moth was seen patrolling the heath on the Lower Poolands side.

Monday 17th April 2017:
Today there were 4 Swallows present feeding over the Common.  Two Green Woodpeckers appear to have paired up on the SE side of the site.  A ♂ Emperor Moth was again seen patrolling.  Also of note were the Oak Apple Galls that were starting to develop on a some of the Commons Oak Trees.  These are caused by a tiny parasitic wasp (Biorhiza pallida) that lays it's eggs inside a leaf bud.

Oak Apple Gall (Biorhiza pallida) in early stage of development

Tuesday 18th April 2017:
It was a warm, sunny afternoon on the Common and I decided to walk a circuit down from the main car park to the gate opposite Wilden Lane along the gorse covered bank, back through the gorse scrub and around the former plantation area.  My prime objective was to try and connect with Green Hairstreak butterfly which had now been reported on the wing at the site.  Sadly I was out of luck but I did have a reasonable haul of butterflies including:  1 ♀ Large White, 4 Speckled Wood, 2 Orange Tip and 1 Comma.  Another invert of note was my 1st Gorse Shieldbug of the year.

Large White (Pieris brassicae)

Gorse Shieldbug (Piezodorus lituratus)

Many Blackcaps were singing today and in one area I saw a ♂ & ♀ Blackcap together.  Also of interest today was a Bank Vole that I saw scurrying across the grass near the main car park picnic area.  Bank Voles are a chestnut/brown colour, have rounded faces (i.e. quite blunt noses) and have fairly short tails.

From the Common I decided to head over to Hillditch Pool and make the most of the fine weather.  Again it was the butterflies that were the stars of the show with 1 Holly Blue (my site first for 2017), 1 Large White, 4 Orange Tip, 7 Small Tortoiseshell, and 2 Peacock observed.  Also of note was a single Dock Bug that was on a (yep, you guessed it) Dock leaf.  3 Swallows were wheeling about overhead.

Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus)

Thursday 20th April 2017:
I decided to revisit Hillditch Pool this afternoon and, on arrival, was immediately struck by how many St Mark's Flies were on the wing.  Being a dull day there was little activity on the butterfly front with only a single ♂ Orange Tip of note.  Both Wolf Spider (Pardosa amentata) and Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis) were observed during the visit.  Two Swallows were observed skimming the surface of the pool to take a drink and a Grey Heron flew over heading NNW.

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