Sunday, 2 June 2013

Creech Woods, Denmead - May 2013

On Friday 31st May I had to opportunity to spend a couple of hours walking around Creech Woods, near Demead, Hampshire. The site is part of the Forestry Commissions estate, and was historically part of the Forest of Bere. Large parts of the site comprise conifer plantation, but there are some areas, where low scrub and woodland clearings and rides are present. It was these areas that proved to be the most interesting for wildlife. It is a site that absorbs a lot of public recreational pressure and whilst I was there I encountered over 20 visitors with at least half of those having a free running dog. But despite the disturbance there were areas that were less disturbance and subsequently had a good mix of species.

The bird life was fairly typical for a woodland with chiffchaffs, blackcaps, great spotted woodpeckers, blackbirds, wrens and blue and great tits present. But in areas where it was less disturbed and the habitat was more suitable, willow warblers, garden warblers, firecrest and bullfinch were recorded. In the north of the site pylons run overhead, and these made the ideal perch for a couple of common ravens to make their presence known.

Bugle Ajuga reptans was a very common species along the woodland rides

The woodland rides were dominated with bugle and this proved to be a popular nectaring source for bumblebees and hoverflies. A large puddle on one of the woodland rides turned out be be very popular for a couple of broad-bodied chasers. 

Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa: A male standing guard whilst the female was egg laying

Whilst the male stood guard on a nearby twig, seeing off any other males, the female set about the business of egg laying. The puddle where they had set up territory did not give the impression of being very permanent and therefore I presume that the larvae will find it difficult to survive as summer progresses and the pond dries out. Unless this summer is as wet as last summer that is!

Female Broad-bodied Chaser egg-laying: This individual was in flight hence the blurred wings

It appeared that there had been a recent emergence of large red damselflies also, as I recorded this species commonly during my visit. The adults of this species typically emerge from late April and can be seen through to the end of September. The cold weather during March and April has delayed the emergence of many dragonfly species, but they seem to be very widespread now.

Female Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Butterfly species were fairly thin on the ground with the most common species being speckled wood and orange tip. A very confiding green-veined white was the only other species recorded.

 Female Green-veined White Pieris napi

Given the very strong markings on this individual it looks to be a female. The first brood females of this species are usually much more heavily marked than the males, particularly of the upperside of the wings. The males can appear almost white.

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