Wildlife Sightings – July-September 2021

Your sightings have continued to come in – shared on our TDEG Facebook page or by email. Many thanks! We’ve also had our first TDEG Summer Wildlife Walks programme – so we’ve things to report from those events as well. As ever, the list of species below just adds to those already seen during the winter and spring months of 2021, and reported in our earlier wildlife sightings blogs. Not surprisingly, therefore, there are no additional birds or wild flowers to report. But lots of new butterflies and other insects – and some surprising mammals to talk about.

It would be remiss of us to celebrate the wonderful wildlife seen in our immediate area (which we’ve previously taken to be around five miles from Tideswell) without mentioning one of the most exciting wildlife projects in Derbyshire for many years. After 800 years, Beavers are back!

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has finally managed to reintroduce two pairs of Eurasian Beavers at their Willington Wetlands nature reserve, near Repton in South Derbyshire. The first Beavers were released on 27 September.

You can read a lot more about the DWT Beavers, and how to follow their progress on line, here. DWT hopes they will thrive – rearing their own families and improving the diversity and habitat of the area for all wildlife.

TDEG’s next whole group meeting on 24 November will also welcome Kate Lemon (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Regional Manager for the Erewash and Trent) who is closely involved in this project. Kate will share with us how DWT accomplished this exciting project and why it’s so important for nature and ourselves.

Eurasian Beaver (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)
Beaver release at Willington Wetlands (DWT)

In our own area, our members have also been recording lots of other mammal activity. Hedgehogs have been seen foraging and engaging in courtship displays in Tideswell and Litton. Phil Grainger had a wonderful surprise when his trail camera caught badgers visiting his Townhead garden in Tideswell.

Pete Hawkins reported further sightings of deer on the Monsal Trail (we think small enough to be Roe Deer again –  as seen previously in our area). And Amy Flanagan captured some lovely images of Water Voles near Litton Mill.

Badger visiting a Townhead garden (Phil Grainger)
Water Vole near Litton Mill (Amy Flanagan)

TDEG also had a wonderful Bat Walk down Tideswell Dale in August. With the assistance of the Derbyshire Bat Group, we managed to see and hear four different species of bats – Common Pipistrelles and Soprano Pipistrelles, Noctule Bats and Daubenton’s Bats. It was particularly interesting to see the latter swooping across the River Wye at Litton Mill, as they tried to catch aquatic insects from the surface of the water.

In mid July, on a lovely summer’s evening, TDEG organised a Swift Walk around Tideswell, to see if we could count Swifts in the village. We were lucky to get some great views of around 15 Swifts circling about homes on Parke Road, and at the other end of the village below Sherwood Road.  We were particularly thrilled to see Swifts entering and leaving two nest sites, under the eaves of local houses. There must be more – and we continue to hope that returning Swifts will occupy some of the new nest boxes next year.

As baby Swifts develop in their nests, they begin to exercise in order to strengthen their wings and move around a lot. They can also get quite distressed if there is a prolonged period of drought. This can result in young Swifts falling from their nests, unable to fly properly. These grounded birds are very difficult to look after, and an expert Swift carer is always the best option. We had a baby Swift brought to us at the end of July. We kept her for one night, just providing small drops of water, before taking her to a Swift carer in Sheffield. I’d like to think she is on her way south now, and look forward to her return next spring.

Baby Swift - waiting to be taken to `rehab` in Sheffield (Lynn Crowe)
Dark Green Fritillary in Tansley Dale (Alison Rooke)

The summer months are also the best time to see insects – butterflies and moths and all things creepy crawly! Our Tideswell Dale transect team continues to monitor butterflies in the dale. It has been fascinating to compare their findings with other parts of Derbyshire. Adam Saunders hit a high note during a particularly warm and sunny spell on 19 July, when he recorded 17 different species and 85 butterflies in total. Tremendous!

But even these figures pale in comparison with other locations in our area. For example, Gordon and Alison Rooke have counted nearly 300 butterflies on one occasion in Tansley Dale, from 14 different species. It will be interesting to see if parts of Tideswell Dale see a growing number of butterflies, as some of the tree cover has gone, and this may encourage more butterflies to take up residence here. 

The charity Butterfly Conservation has some super butterfly and moth ID pages, where you can double check any that you see in our area, or have a look at some of those seen by our members in this quarter’s Species List.

Our final summer wildlife activity involved a bug hunt at the Tideswell Community Orchard, in the company of local expert, Thomas Eccles. With our nets and trays, we managed to identify (approximately!) more than twenty different species, including grasshoppers and several different butterflies and moths. We also had a lot of fun. We hope the youngsters who came along left as budding entomologists!

Inspecting our finds at the community orchard (Lynn Crowe)
Grasshopper in the community orchard (Lynn Crowe)

As the summer progresses, it’s not just the adult butterflies we notice – but their caterpillars as well. This very pale Lime Hawk Moth caterpillar was seen by Alison Gunn in St. John’s churchyard. It apparently only goes this colour when it is about to pupate. And Ruth Packer noticed these Vapourer Moth caterpillars in Litton.

And just to prove we are also fascinated by other strange invertebrates – here is a great photo of a Leopard Slug from Rowan Shaw, swinging from a thread of slime (which they generally do to mate with another slug – although this one appears to be on its own!) – truly a “stunt slug”!

Lime Hawk Moth caterpillar (Alison Gunn)
Vapourer Moth caterpillars (Ruth Packer)
Rowan Shaw's "stunt slug"

As autumn inevitably creeps up on us, we’ll leave you with our smallest creatures on this post – Silk Button Gall Wasps on an Oak leaf (captured by John Youle). Each of these tiny blisters contains a wasp larva, and they will remain on the leaf as it falls to the ground in autumn and through the winter. The tiny wasps will only emerge in the spring. 

Isn’t nature amazing?! We just have to take time to notice and appreciate it, in all its oddness and glory.

Silk Button Gall Wasps on an Oak leaf (John Youle)

Keep your sightings coming in. Autumn is a great time to see colourful fungi in our local woodlands, and soon the winter migrating birds, such as Bramblings, Fieldfare and Redwings, will be returning. You can send us your sightings by email (info@tdeg.org.uk), post them on our Facebook page, or on the web site here.

Species List

 

Mammals

Badger

Hedgehog

Noctule Bats

Daubenton’s Bats

 

Insects

White-Letter Hairstreak butterfly

Gatekeeper butterfly

Painted Lady butterfly

Purple Hairstreak butterfly

Small White  butterfly

Small Copper butterfly

Wall Brown butterfly

Meadow Brown butterfly 

Small Skipper

Common Nettle Tap moth

Silver Carpet moth

Vapourer moth Caterpillar

Lime Hawk moth Caterpillar

Silk Button Gall Wasp

From the bug hunt….

Buff-tailed bumble bee

Grasshopper

Capsid Bug

Parasitic wasp

Sawfly caterpillar

Red Mite

Ladybird

Soldier beetle

Hoverfly

Micromoth

Meadow Brown butterfly

Ringlet butterfly

Small Skipper

Thick kneed beetle

Froghopper

Large White butterfly

Olebrus beetle sp.

Wood lice

Thrip

Unidentified spider

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