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Monthly Diary


June 2018

posted 4 Jul 2018, 03:12 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 4 Jul 2018, 03:13 ]

cattle in stream

Well, the cattle certainly know how to keep cool in this hot weather! Whilst it is lovely to have some sunshine, the lack of rain has meant the grassland area of the Green has dried up at an alarming rate. Not only is the dry grass a worrying fire hazard, but it also means that there is a lot less food available for the cattle. Fortunately, there is still some grazing available on the margins of Leomansley Brook and on the damper side of the Green. Hopefully we will get some rain in the near future!

bee orchid

June has been a very busy month. Not only did we have our evening walk with Lichfield Discovered (very enjoyable it was too!), but Staffordshire Wildlife Trust spent two mornings this month surveying the plant life of the Green. I was lucky enough to tag along and it was very interesting learning about some of the less obvious plant species of the Green (hairy sedges and the difference between red fescue and sheep's fescue!). We did find some more bee orchids, which brings the grand total this year to 3! Whilst that is a bit disappointing, it was encouraging to know that the survey recorded just under 60 plant species on the grassland side of the Green, and 72 species on the wet side. There will be some overlap of some of the species, but even so it means that we have in the region of 100 plant species growing on the Green - a great result!

small white

Many butterflies can also been seen flitting around the Green at the moment. In particular, there are quite a number of small white butterflies and some of these can be seen congregating on the side of the muddy pools (provided your dog doesn't disturb them before you get to the puddles!) This behaviour is know as mud puddling and the mud is though to be an important source of salts, especially sodium. Seemingly butterflies loose a lot of sodium during reproduction, and so this mud puddling is important way for them to increase their sodium levels. They can also feed on dung and carrion to get their nutrients - haven't seen any on the cow pats - but I will keep a look out!

May 2018

posted 7 Jun 2018, 09:18 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 7 Jun 2018, 09:20 ]

orchid

What a difference a month makes! In early May, the grass was just starting to grow and by the end of the month it was 2 foot high! The Green is now teeming with insect and bird life and the plants are putting on a spectacular display, not least the orchids. There seem to be more than ever flowering and they are really looking lovely.

orchid close up

One of the species of orchids flowering at the moment is the common spotted orchid, and you can really appreciate the detail of the individual flowers on the spike by this close up photo. The three distinct and quite pointed lobes on the bottom petal of the flower is characteristic of the common spotted orchid and can be used to distinguish them from other orchid species. They are exquisite though aren't they?

damselfly

Towards the end of the month the damselflies started to appear and I was quite pleased to manage to photograph a pair of large red damselflies starting to mate. The male clasps the female's neck and then she is supposed to bend her body round to his reproductive organs and so form a "wheel" shape - except I don't think she is being that cooperative!

Twelve cattle were turned on to the Green at the end of May and have settled in really well. They are a very chilled bunch and are starting to munch their way through the sward (and hopefully leave the orchids alone!). To finish off this post, the Trust and Lichfield Discovered are joining forces on Friday 15th June at 7.30 pm for an evening wildlife and history walk around the Green. This will be followed by a few drinks and snacks (bring your own!) as the sun sets. We will meet at 7.30 pm by the bench alongside Leomansley Brook. It should be fun and hopefully see you there - I might even bring my bat detector along!

April 2018

posted 6 May 2018, 07:51 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 6 May 2018, 07:52 ]

orange tip

After a very cold and for the most part, a rather dreary April, it is a great relief to know that Spring has finally arrived. However, even with the cold weather, the birds have been busy nesting and the spring flowers, emerging, including celandine and wood anemone. The lady's smock (or cuckoo flower) has also started flowering and I was lucky to find an orange-tip butterfly (which obligingly stayed still, whilst I photographed it!) feeding on one of the flowers.

We were very fortunate, in April, to have Staffordshire Mammal Group visit and undertake a small mammal survey (ie survey for small mammals like mice, voles, shrews etc and not a small survey for mammals....!). Staffordshire Mammal Group are very experienced in conducting such surveys, so it was a great opportunity for us to find out if the Green is providing a suitable habitat for these animals. From the survey, a total of 9 individuals were recorded, including, 6 field mice, 2 common shrew and a field vole. This is great news as these numbers are 50% higher, compared to what would normally be expected from a survey on typical farmland. This means that the Green is providing a suitable habitat for these small, but very important mammals. A huge thank you to Staffordshire Mammal Group for doing the survey and for sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm. Their Facebook page can be found here. Some of the mammals recorded are shown below. From top left in a clockwise order - field mouse, common shrew, field mouse, field vole.

Image below courtesy of Staffordshire Mammal Group,

small mammals

March 2018

posted 2 Apr 2018, 09:12 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 2 Apr 2018, 09:21 ]

badger

It looks like a badger(s) has been on the Green this month looking for some food! There isn't a sett on the Green, so this will be a visitor from somewhere. Typically badgers will scrape the ground looking for earthworms and insect larvae. It is also possible that they are after the pignut tubers, which seemingly are quite tasty! I did put my trail camera up to see if I could get any footage. I didn't get anything , but....

I did get a brief glimpse of a Mr (or Mrs) fox!

Fox march 2018

primroses

There are many signs that spring is on its way,despite the cold weather. This clump of primroses on the edge of the Green, certainly is a welcome sight and puts a smile on my face. That being said, they did look a bit bedraggled after all the rain!

February 2018

posted 5 Mar 2018, 08:37 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 5 Mar 2018, 08:46 ]

catkins

For the first few weeks of February, you might have been forgiven for thinking that spring was around the corner. The birds were singing more loudly, the woodpeckers were drumming and the hazel catkins were starting to flower. A closer inspection of the catkins reveals some interesting details. The yellow catkins are the male flowers, which release the pollen, which in turn, will fertilise the female flower. So where is the female flower? Well, it turns out that the small pink buds that you can see on the twigs will open out and form a very small red flower, which once pollinated, will then go on to form the hazel nut!

plinth

I am sure that you will agree that the "beast from the east" certainly made its presence felt last week. For anyone who ventured onto the Green, it was absolutely perishing with a brutally cold wind. However, one result of the strong wind, was that the snow was blown across the Armour Brown plinth and filled in the words, making them much easier to read. Quite effective really.

little egret

A welcome visitor to the Green during the cold weather last week, was a little egret! You may remember, that we had one on the Green for about a month, last March. I have no idea if it is the same one, or whether it was just taking advantage of Leomansley Brook, not being frozen. The photo shows a little egret, which I took 10 days ago - not on the Green, but in Dorset! Still, I am sure they all look pretty much the same!

January 2018

posted 11 Feb 2018, 01:52 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 11 Feb 2018, 01:53 ]

snowdrops

A very quiet start to the year, with some very cold, wet and windy weather. There are some places which have become quite waterlogged and muddy. Hopefully things will start to dry out soon!! That being said, there are definite signs that spring is on its way. A small patch of snowdrops near the back fence are flowering and are always a welcome site. I even heard a greater spotted woodpecker drumming the other day - a sign that the the birds are starting to look for mates and protecting their territory.

5spires

I do love the view of the cathedral from the Green and in the winter it is quite easy to make out the "five spires" of Lichfield: three spires from the cathedral and on the right hand side of the photo, the spire of St Mary's and behind that (just visible) is the spire of St Michael's (at Greenhill).

December 2017

posted 27 Dec 2017, 03:03 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 27 Dec 2017, 03:08 ]

winter

The snow that we had a few weeks ago, turned the Green into a winter wonderland and gave a very different feel to the place. Hopefully you managed to get across there and enjoy the views for yourselves.

prints

An advantage of the snow is that animal tracks could be seen and I spent a couple of very interesting hours walking around the Green looking for animal prints. Apart from the inevitable rabbit tracks, there were also a number of fox tracks. One fox had walked quite away along Leomansley Brook and made good use of the bridge! Another interesting print, was that of a bird wing in the snow. It is too small for an owl, but is quite likely to be from a kestrel hunting for mice and voles under the snow.

snowman

A rather unusual visitor to the Green was also spotted having a rest on the bench! Maybe he was looking out for the kingfisher that has recently been seen along that part of the brook. Finally just to wish everyone Season's greetings. Thank you for all your support over the year and I hope you continue to enjoy the Green in 2018!

November 2017

posted 3 Dec 2017, 01:37 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 3 Dec 2017, 02:02 ]

ice leaf

The last week of November has certainly been a cold one, with frosty but sunny mornings. The frost produces some beautiful images, which I tried to capture the other morning. Here, ice crystals have formed overnight on some of the plants. The crystals form when the temperature of the vegetation is lower than the freezing point of water. So whilst it looks lovely, it must have been a rather cold night on the Green!

goldfinch

I also managed to photograph a goldfinch, that was obligingly sitting on a hawthorn branch, warming itself in the morning sun (normally they fly off the minute I get within photographic range!). Goldfinches can be seen all year round on the Green and are very sociable forming loose flocks. They like the hedges near the football field entrance, so keep an eye out for them next time you walk past.

 

fox on pipe green

I haven't put the trail camera up for a while and thought it would be interesting to see if any animals were around. I was delighted with this footage of a fox, sniffing around for some food. Whilst I had put some food out, the magpies had got there first, so I am afraid the fox lost out! I did get some other animals on video, but I am trying to get better quality footage - so you will have to wait for the next instalment!

October 2017

posted 4 Nov 2017, 09:31 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 4 Nov 2017, 09:40 ]

Botany group

We have had quite a productive month, starting with a work party in early October, where we cleared the vegetation from a part of Leomansley brook. Following on from that, some of us cleared the bramble and vegetation from top end of the brook and strimmed some of the rush. A big thanks to all who helped out.

We also welcomed Lichfield Botany Group this month, who came for a guided walk of the Green. After a brief introduction on the history and management of Pipe Green, we spent a very enjoyable afternoon looking at what flora and fauna we have on the Green. In particular we spent a lot of time looking at the colourful waxcap fungi, which have been putting on a gorgeous display this Autumn. I love these bright coloured fungi and we are very lucky to have such a good selection of them. They form a very important habitat known as a waxcap grassland. More about this valuable habitat can be found here

Below, is a composite of some of the waxcap fungi grassland species that I have managed to photograph on the Green this month. From top left in a clockwise direction we have:

  • A red waxcap fungi - probably hygrocybe coccinea.
  • Earthtoungue (from a family known as geoglossum). Whilst this might not look as impressive as a waxcap fungi, it is a very important species to have on the Green and very difficult to find!
  • Parrot waxcap - hygrocybe psittacina this starts off green and turns yellow with age. You can still see a bit of green on the cap.
  • Another red waxcap (couldn't resist another photo!)
  • Snowy waxcap - hygrocybe virgineus
  • Fairy club (from the family clavariacae). These have weird looking yellow spindles that peep out of the grass. It is amazing how many of these are growing on the Green - you just have to look carefully!
waxcap fungi

September 2017

posted 30 Sep 2017, 02:36 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 30 Sep 2017, 02:37 ]

rose gall

Whilst walking on the Green the other day, I noticed a dog rose which had a number of impressive growths on it. These are known as Robin's pincushion or the Bedeguar Gall. It is formed by a small gall wasp laying its eggs on developing leaf buds in the summer. The eggs hatch into larvae and these in turn secrete chemicals, which cause the gall to form. The larvae live in the gall as grubs and then over-winter as pupae, ready to emerge as adult gall wasps in the spring. What amazes me is how the chemicals secreted by the larvae cause these rather impressive reddish "pincushions" to grow, instead of a normal leaf!

devils bit

A late summer flowering plant that can be found on the Green, is the Devil's-bit scabious. These gorgeous purple pin cushion flowers are an important nectar source for late flying insects and most certainly when I took this photo a lot of bees were feeding on them. (I did try to take some photos with bees feeding, but it is harder than you might think!). I am very pleased that the devil's bit scabious is spreading, which is very good news indeed. They grow on the wet bit of the Green, so wellies are advisable, if you want to venture over to see them.

ivy flower

Another important nectar source for insect this time of year is the ivy flower. The ivy bush next to the football field gate has been absolutely covered with butterfly, all types of bees and hoverfly and there is a really loud buzzing sound as you walk past. So don't underestimate the humble ivy - it is very important for invertebrates this time of year! I have looked for the ivy bee, which feeds exclusively on ivy flower and was first recorded in the UK only in 2001 - so far I have not been successful.

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