5th August 2017

Despite the unpromising weather I was fortunate enough to spot a brown hairstreak nectaring on hemp agrimony in the butterfly garden. We are lucky enough to see one or two on the reserves every year as well as finding their eggs. With luck they can sometimes be seen on the ash tree in the quiet garden. The pretty blue flowers of devils bit scabious can now be seen blooming all along our various ponds and ditches where we have successfully introduced them by sowing seed collected from Cowden Pound nature reserve in Kent.

2nd August 2017

Yesterday 24 common blue butterflies were recorded along our transect route. That is a record for a single day and shows this beautiful butterfly is thriving on our reserves. Today I was startled by a large frog jumping into one of the pools in the central ditch in bloomers field. Hopefully frogs will breed in these pools in the future. The betony along our ditches is past its best but some are still in flower. However, its role as star nectar plant for insects will soon be taken by devils bit scabious whose lovely blue flowers are just starting to show. Both these plants are establishing well around our new pond but it will probably be a few more years before the plants are big enough to put on a show. 

10th June 2017

I walked our weekly butterfly transect today and counted 18 meadow brown butterflies along the route showing more and more are emerging. Large skipper, several common blues and speckled wood were also recorded. Swallows and swifts were hawking over the reserve. A buzzard and a kestrel were seemingly flying together over Paris Gate. A pair of linnets flew out of the hedge to the West of the orchard and black caps and chiffchaffs could be heard. Bullfinches were calling on Haylands Farm next door. Emperor dragonfly and beautiful demoiselle seen on the wing. Jays were very active in bloomers field where I suspect there is a nest. We seem to have three established groups of common spotted orchids: by the ponds, in the ditch near Coldharbour and a newly discovered one establishing in the wildflower meadow. However, I also spotted several single plants in new places including a large orchid in beacon field amongst the bramble scrub. Corky fruited water dropwort is now in flower in its usual place in beacon field but new plants are also flowering by the new pond in the establishing meadow sown with local seed on the spoil from the pond excavation. 

4th June 2017

Meadow brown butterflies are now flying and can be seen throughout the grasslands. Common blues seem to be thriving in bloomers field. Several could be counted when the sun was out fluttering through the grasses. No doubt this is due to the abundance of their food plant: birds foot trefoil. Yesterday I also counted speckled wood, small copper, red admiral and brimstone butterflies. Day flying moths are evident. There are quite a few around the old ponds, probably brown china mark moths. I could only identify burnett companion in bloomers field but there were several other species. Maybe twenty swifts were flying over the reserves. The ones hawking across jenners field were coming down to less than a metre above the ground as they sped after insects. Swallows and house martins were also seen. A lesser whitethroat was heard from bloomers field. As always buzzards were soaring over the reserves. A kestrel was seen over bloomers field. Around fifty common spotted orchid are now in flower. This is a 70% increase on last year and includes several plants in the wildflower meadow where there was only one in flower last year. The ditch by coldharbour could justifiably be named orchid alley. The highlight of my visit was spotting a common lizard in the edge of the brambles in beacon field. These bramble beds are deliberately left untouched for wildlife and rabbits could be seen taking shelter as I approached while the flowers were alive with hundreds of bees. 

14th May 2017

I walked the weekly butterfly transect and was delighted to record a dingy skipper in section 3 which is the ditch near Coldharbour in beacon field. Other butterflies seen around the reserve included a couple of holly blues in the butterfly garden, a very fresh looking small copper in the orchard  plus peacock, speckled wood and probably large white (it could possbibly have been a female brimstone) elsewhere. I saw a sparrowhawk carrying prey just North of cobham hedge which would suggest a nest nearby. There was a buzzard over bloomers field. Chiffchaffs, blackcaps and bullfinches were all heard from the wildflower meadow. Swifts were screaming over bloomers field. Pignut is in full flower on the beacon field side of centenary hedge. The white stars of greater stitchwort are in full bloom in many parts of the reserve and were particularly noticeable on the jenners field side of centenary hedge.

10th May 2017

A beautiful sunny day and warm in the sunshine. Some wonderful wildlife seen. Red kite. Buzzard. Heron. Sparrowhawk. Common whitethroats in orchard hedge. Blackcaps in coldharbour copse perhaps responding to the thicker undergrowth due to coppicing in recent years. Grass snake on the edge of cold harbour copse. Brimstone, common blue, speckled wood, small white greenveined white and holly blue butterflies.

14th April 2017

Mistle thrush in horse paddocks. Goldcrest. Nuthatch. Wren. Chiffchaffs. Swallow over Paris Farm. Blackcaps. Thousands of dandelions in fields on Paris Farm looking wonderful. Small party of linnets with a cock bird singing nearby possibly attracted by the seeds. Jackdaws. Greenwoodpecker. Skylark over Beacon Field then flew over Paris Farm. Starlings. Bullfinch. Songthrushes singing. Chaffinch. Two buzzards high over Bloomers Field. Jays near probable nest. Mallard duck with two ducklings on the ponds. Host of house sparrows around scout hut.  

12th April 2017

Song thrushes singing all round and heard a mistle thrush from the direction of Paris Farm. Blackcaps. Chiffchaffs. Buzzard and kestrel over. Nuthatch and greenfinch in Jenners. The jays that are probably nesting were very active in Bloomers Field and heard then saw four swallows over. Long tailed tits in Cold Harbour Copse. The common pears and crab apples we planted around the copse are doing really well although still to young to flower. Next year hopefully. Speckled wood butterfly. Counted 50 emerging common spotted orchids. That is before they have even flowered when many more become apparent. Out total last year was 30 so we can be pretty confident they are establishing and spreading and it looks like they are doubling their numbers.   

9th April 2017

A glorious sunny day which was perfect for insects. Small white, brimstone, orange tip, speckled wood and holly blue butterflies were all seen on the reserves. The colony of various mining bees near the first pond dipping platform were very active and a possible identification is yellow legged mining bee. There are probably at least two other secies but e need an expert to help ID them. The bluebells which are now establishing in Cold Harbour Copse are in flower and becoming noticeable for the first time since we began spreading seed about five years ago. I saw a red kite over Crowhurst on the Sunday.

5th April 2017

It seems more migrants are arriving. A swallow was sat on telephone lines in Crowhurst Road. Chiffchaffs could be heard all over the reserve and blackcaps were singing in the butterfly garden. A jay was seen taking nesting material into scrub near paris gate. A buzzard was sitting on a fence in its usual field on paris farm when it was bombed by another buzzard which then flew on West.

1st April 2017 

The bare sunny slopes of the old ponds are like tiny lunar landscapes due to the burrowings of hundreds of solitary bees and their spoil heaps. We planted water mint today along the edge of the new pond. This is a favoured egg laying plant for newts and the flowers are loved by butterflies in high Summer. One or two toadstools are visible in the ditches. 2 buzzards over. Female kestrel flew out of hedge on Beacon Field and was then seen hovering over Haylands Farm. Jays. Jackdaws. Chiffchaffs calling around the reserves. Speckled wood butterfly in nettle patch in middle of Cold Harbour Copse. Primroses planted in the Autumn are coming into flower around the reserves. Plum and damson trees in the orchard are white with blossom. 

30th March 2017

A glorious, warm, sunny Spring day. 2 buzzards over reserve. Dandelions flowering everywhere in the meadows and attracting insects. The wood anemones we planted a year ago in Cold Harbour Copse have come up and one even flowered. The tadpoles in the bridge scrape seemed to have all disappeared bar a handful. Have the newts eaten them or are they just good at hiding? 18 emerging common spotted orchids seen in a short stretch of the new ditch. Brimstone, totoiseshell, holly blue,red admiral and peacock butterflies seen.

25th March 2017

The tadpoles in the bridge scrape are now just starting to spread around the pond but are still nestled in the sunniest part of the pond on a protective bed of old spawn. The bare soil of the pond banks is busy with solitary bees presumably prospecting for nest sites. Bullfinch in wildflower meadow. Nuthatches in the orchard. Butterflies on the wing in the sunshine. At least three peacocks and one brimstone. The first common spotted orchid plants are emerging and showing near the ponds and along the ditch towards Coldharbour. I counted at least five in a one metre stretch of bank.

18th March 2017

The frogspawn in one of our scrapes is hatching and what looks like a black oil slick has formed on top. It is thousands of tadpoles all wriggling. It is good to see they seem to be surviving the attentions of the newts. Lots of foraging jackdaws, crows and magpies on Paris Farm next door. The fact they are finding food is encouraging as it is presumably insect life. Similary, a buzzard was again sitting on a fence post in the middle of these fields and is obviously finding food too. Primroses are out around the reserve and honey bees could be seen foraging on them.

12th March 2017

Great view of a buzzard perched on a low bush in a field on Paris Farm. Its bright yellow talons were very noticeable. Stock dove calling from just North of the reserve.The frogspawn is hatching. The first pond dipping session of the year was well attended as usual. Over 43 smooth newts and 11 great crested newts were caught then returned to the water. At the same time last year we caught 30 smooth newts and only one GCN. There is a picture of one of the examining trays below. A couple of frogs and several sticklebacks were also caught along with beetle, dragonfly and damselfly larvae.

 

 

11th March 2017

Meadow pipits on Paris Farm next door. Newts seen in our new pond as well as whirligig beetles.


4th March 2017

A lot more frog spawn has appeared and now there must be twenty or so clumps in the small pond by the bridge in the enclosure with the ponds. Buzzards are very active locally.

 

26th February 2017

Two clumps of frog spawn have appeared in one of the small ponds created specifically for frogs to breed in the channel between the larger ponds. Water starwort has been introduced into these ponds as it is a favoured water plant for frogs and newts.


11th February 2017

There have been lots of redwings on the reserves over the last week or so. Today was no exception with small flocks in Beacon Field alongside the hedges. It was nice to see song thrushes amongst them. Bullfinches are almost always present on the reserves and they were calling again today. Nuthatches could be heard too.


8th January 2017

Two pied wagtails dodging the dogs in Jenners Fields. Hopefully they will stay and breed somewhere nearby. Two song thrushes on Jenners Field too. A party of at least six bullfinches in the butterfly garden. We have now discovered mistletoe "seedlings" sprouting in at least four locations on apple trees in the orchard following the spreading of the sticky seeds on suitable branches over the previous two Winters.


10th December 2016

Nuthatch. Bullfinches. Goldfinches (a vocal flock in Derek Slade Spinney). Starlings. Song thrush. Mistle thrush (once again it was noisily seeing off all comers as it defended the berries on the large holly tree in Coldharbour). Redwing. Fieldfare. Jay. Pied wagtail (a party of three were trying to avoid the dog walkers in Jenners Field but continued to feed in the middle of the field. It is a good place to look out for wagtails).


4th December 2016

Bullfinch in Butterfly Garden. Mistle thrush in a big berry covered holly in the garden of Cold Harbour chasing all the other thrushes away and making their loud scolding call. Redwing in trees bordering Wildlflower Meadow. Heard some scraps of song thrush song coming from trees to the North of the reserve. I find it heartening that they are thinking of Spring already. I could hear a charm of goldfinches in Derek Slade Spinney.
26th November 2016
A female kestrel over Jenners Field. It perched on a large oak on the North side before flying over to a fir tree by the allotment in Beacon Field. Ring necked parakeets in Coldharbour copse. Mistle thrush over the orchard. Bullfinches calling.


12th November 2016

Founds a brown hairstreak egg on blackthorn in the Orchard very near where I found one last year. It is good to confirm this rare butterfly is breeding on the reserve.


5th November 2016

Found a fly agaric in the Orchard. These are beautiful toadstools with a red cap and white spots. They usually associate with birches but this one was nowhere near any.


23rd October 2016

Buzzard. Mistle thrush flew over.


22nd October 2016

Our reserves are good for bats particularly around the ponds as apparently is gun pond in the village not far away. To encourage them we have recently installed a substantial hibernaculum paid for by Gatwick Airport Community Trust in a large oak tree in Jenners Field. Workmen from Tandridge parks department kindly installed this rather heavy specially designed bat box high in the tree. The box has an open prospect across the field and gives the bats the clear flight lines they prefer. It is a lottery whether the bats will choose to winter in the box as hoped but The Surrey Bat Group have encouraged us to try. To check it out I visited as it got dark tonight and was encouraged to see a minimum of two bats foraging within ten metres of the box. Let's hope it meets their exacting requirements for a winter roost and a colony develops there. It would be wonderful to be able to watch bats swarming in front of the box as they gather to roost at dawn.


16th October 2016

Female sparrowhawk flashed across fields to the North West of the reserve. Hawker dragonflies, probably Southern and Migrant, hunting over the ponds. Another person described seeing a kingfisher visiting the ponds and having seen slow worms at the bottom of the hedge surrounding the pond enclosure.


11th October 2016

A local lady has reported seeing a kingfisher "darting" into the ponds then diving and grabbing a fish. She was obvously delighted at witnessing this and we are very grateful for the record which is our first sighting of a kingfisher on the reserves. Kingfishers are present on the Eden and are ocassionally seen in the local area but to have one visit a part of the reserves that has so many people passing by is a surprise. The ponds are full of fish so hopefully it will return regularly now it has discovered this food source.


2nd October 2016

It seems that the Autumn bird migration is late this year but today I saw a charming flock of around 100 meadow pipits in a field of rough grass adjoining the reserves. There were a few small flocks of swallows passing over too.


25th September 2016

Today we held a workparty and we were working around the ponds. I lifted a piece of roof sheet which we deliberately placed near the ponds in order to monitor wildlife. Underneath was a family of field mice, probably wood mice, as they are the commonest British species and also at least three tiny grass snakes. These would have hatched very recently and once again confirm we have a breeding population on the reserves. A groundhopper (like a very small grasshopper) was spotted in one of the small ponds. A bullfinch was calling from around the scout hut. Later a kestrel was hovering over Paris Farm until it pounced then flew off. A red admiral and painted lady were nectaring in a flower filled garden by Coldharbour.


3rd September 2016

 A second sighting of a small heath butterfly. Several common blue butterflies were enjoying the late nectar offered by the stand of devils bit scabious in the new ditch by Coldharbour. We introduced them to the reserves by sowing seed collected from Cowden Pound nature reserve in Kent. They are now well established and their show of blue button like flowers gets better each year. They are covered in bees and the birds like the seeds.


27th August 2016

Buzzard. A small flock of linnets were present on the North side of Bloomers Field.


24th August 2016

Small heath, brown argus and purple hairstreak butterflies were recorded on our transect today. All of these species are rarely seen on the reserves although the hairstreaks are probably always present. They are usually high in the tops of oak trees and therefore hard to spot. This one was on the grass in Jenners Field for some reason. The others were nectaring of the wildflowers in the new ditch towards Coldharbour. A buzzard flew over and a flock of starlings was present.


24th July 2016

A red kite flew over over Paris Farm to the West of Beacon Field. A stock dove was calling in the Orchard yesterday. The stands of betony along the new ditch near Coldharbour are looking splendid at the moment. You can also find agrimony and meadowsweet in flower along this ditch and soon devils bit scabious should be out. Holly blues are flying in the Quiet Garden. Grasshoppers can now be heard and seen all over the reserves. We have recorded three types: meadow, field and common green.


17th July 2016

This year's smooth and even great crested newt larvae can now be seen in our new scrapes and ponds when they are clear. They are really hard to spot but if you put your finger near them they wriggle away. We are delighted to find this evidence of breeding less than a year after these new habitats were created. Lots of butterflies are now on the wing and meadow browns are abundant across the reserve grasslands. Gatekeepers have recently emerged and numbers should now build.The ditch near Coldharbour is a favoured spot for both essex and small skipper, They can be found nectaring on the developing stands of betony. Knapweed is coming into flower now and this is a favourite butterfly nectar plant. Thankfully it has done well on the reserves and become more widespread each year.

 
19th June 2016

The first large skipper of the year was recorded on Sunday's transect walk. A speckled wood and a female brimstone were also seen. A broad bodied chaser, beautiful demoiselles and large red damselflies were spotted around the ponds. Brown china mark moths were abundant in the pond side vegetation again.


12th June 2016

While Sunday morning was a wash out, one brave family turned up for pond dipping. They then proceeded to catch an impressive two great crested newts. A baby grass snake (this year's) was spotted to the delight of the two young children. Brown china mark moths were abundant on the vegetation around the ponds. Bull finches were seen in Bloomers Field and a green woodpecker was heard in the distance.


11th June 2016

A warm if overcast day brought a sighting of the first meadow brown and common blue butterflies for the year. Excitingly a dingy skipper was again recorded in the ditch near Coldharbour. At least thirty common spotted orchids were flowering around the reserve. This is our highest count to date and includes a plant in the Wildflower Meadow where they have not been observed before. As they come into full flower over the next couple of weeks no doubt more will be seen suggesting they are beginning to establish and spread. Grass vetchling, a new plant for the reserves, was found flowering in the Orchard. The day flying moths, Mother Skipton and Burnett Companion, were seen in the meadows. Two male bullfinches flew up from the grass in the Wildflower Meadow, a heron flew over and stock dove and skylark could be heard calling from nearby fields. Broad bodied chaser dragonflies were patrolling the ponds and lots of damselflies, predominantly azure and large red, were present.


4th June 2016

There have been sightings of great crested newts in the new scrapes and ponds in Bloomers Field. This is great news and suggests that our strategy of increasing their numbers by creating more habitat for them on the reserves is working. I am also delighted to say that dingy skippers have been recorded twice in recent weeks. They seem to favour the ditch near Coldharbour and appreciate the bare clay, sunny aspect and shelter from any breeze. Their food plant, birds foot trefoil, is abundant in Bloomers Field. The flight season of the dingy skipper is just finishing so there will probably not be any more sightings this year but it is good to know we still have them even if we only see one or two insects a year. Look out for common spotted orchids in flower on the reserves in June. The flower spikes are now pushing up and turning pink.


27th February 2016

Redpolls and siskins around the ponds. Bullfinches too. Buzzard seen flying over the fields to the West of Beacon Field. The first dandelions are starting to flower.


20th February 2016

Smooth newts visible on the pond floor of the pond nearest the scout hut. Two greenfinches on trees to the North of Jenners Field. Lesser celandines flowering along the ditch by centenary hedge. Bullfinches heard calling near Coldharbour. Lots of bue tits across the reserves.


13th February 2016

Two buzzards over the fields to the West of the reserves calling frequently.

 

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