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.
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.