Your Sightings

What wildlife to look for in June 2018

The weather has again been mixed with cool temperatures for most of April.  It has only been in the last two weeks that the temperature reached something close to normal or warmer.  The cold weather in the UK and on the continent has had a knock-on effect on many of our summer migrants.  The BTO have indicated that Chiffchaffsare 20 days later in arriving in the UK compared to 2017.  Swallows, House Martins, Whitethroatsand other common migrants are at least 10 days late and are still arriving as I write this article.

Fortunately, the House Martinsat 5 Front Street, Glanton arrived on the evening of the 24thApril.  Pairs occupy both nests but disappeared for days on end during cooler weather.  On-going repairs were required on nest one.  The nest-building activity has attracted the attention of a male House Sparrowwho occupies a hole in our outside wall. He regularly sings from the gutter above the House Martin’s nest, occasionally making forays into the nest only to be chased off by the House Martins and the residents of 5 Front Street.  We are not anti-sparrow, supplementing their dietary needs through the winter months and providing terraced breeding accommodation. In this case we are not in-favour of squatter’s rights!  Nest 2 has gone quiet and it is hoped that the female is busy laying her clutch.

The warmer weather has brought an explosion of insect life. Increasing numbers of Orange-tips, Green-veined Whites, Smalland Large Whitesare being seen on the wing with Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells.  Hopefully the warm weather will continue and we can enjoy an abundance of butterflies.

What to look for in June:Reptiles

Northumberland is blessed with 3 relatively common reptiles:  The Common (or Viviparous lizard), the Slow Worm and the Adder. The Grass Snake is very rare if not extinct in the north of the County.

Common Lizard:  Approximately 15 cm from nose to tail.  Variable colour from shades of brown, through to anything from yellow to red and green to black.  Variable patterns of spots or stripes along back and sides.

The UK’s commonest lizard is widely distributed.  Occupying a wide range of habitats from heaths and woods to ditches, hedgerow and gardens.  Hibernating under logs or stones.

 

Slow Worm: Legless lizard up to 40 cm long, often mistaken for a snake.  Generally grey/brown colour with shiny looking scales. Females have dark sides with black back stripe.  Males sometimes sport blue spots.  Mostly underground or underneath objects or in compost heaps.

Very common throughout Britain.  In moist grassy areas with scrub including gardens, open woodland and wasteland.

Adder:  A stocky snake up to 70 cm long.  Males are grey with black zig-zag stripes.  Females are light brown with dark brown zig zag stripes.  There is a “V” or “X” shaped marking on head and a row of dark spots on each side.

Widely distributed throughout mainland Britain.  In specific habitats such as heathland, moorland, meadows, scrub and open woodland.  On road and rail embankments and very rarely in gardens.

All three reptiles can be found just about anywhere in our area.  Branton Ponds, Black Lough, Harthope Valley are good places to find at least two of these species but anywhere there is suitable habitat and these species may occur.

Happy hunting

 Jack Daw

 

Send all sightings to: Ian & Keith Davison, The Bungalow, Branton, Powburn, NE66 4LW Or by email to redsquirrel@alnwickwildlifegroup.co.uk

If you have wildlife queries you can email them to redsquirrel@alnwickwildlife group.co.uk – and they will be forwarded to an appropriate member who will try to answer them. No promises, mind – none of us are great experts!