By Kevin Lerwill
Gatwick Greenspace Project Community Wildlife Officer
June is normally a good month for wildlife sightings, although the weather this month has been more un-settled than is typical for June, with many days being overcast and slightly cooler than expected, although it has stayed largely dry, which is especially good news for all the young fledgling birds that are busy finding food away from their nests at this time of year. A male Sparrow-hawk was spotted over Tilgate Park, passing food to the female of the pair, which had flown up from their nest nearby and performed an impressive mid-air somersault in order to catch the falling food, which is typically a blue tit, or similar. This was witnessed by our “Wellbeing in the Wild” group, who were at Tilgate Park at the time and who were suitably impressed by this, not having seen this kind of bird behaviour before.
On another occasion, a group of pupils and teachers from Broadfield East Junior School, joined us at Tilgate Park for a day of outdoor learning activities and when we found that our humane Longworth mammal traps had several new (temporary) occupants, namely a pair of wood mice and a common shrew, the excitement and expressions on the childrens’ faces, as they had their first close up view of these endearing little mammals, reminded me how privileged we are to be able to bring people and wildlife together in this way. This was swiftly followed by another close encounter around the fire circle with a slow-worm that had been found in our nearby heathland area and again, the childrens’ natural curiosity and excitement was a joy to behold.
Further afield and recent volunteer tasks at Riverside Garden Park and St Leonard’s Forest included sightings of beautiful demoiselle damselflies, four spotted chaser and broad bodied chaser dragonflies. Beetles; yellow and black spotted long horn beetles, Oedemera nobilis (a slender, shiny green beetle common to wildflower areas) and green tiger beetles, a heathland species (which have also recently been seen at Tigate Park, on the area of scrub regeneration behind the main lake).
Hummingbird hawkmoths have been spotted several times at home on red valerian and we are the proud owners now of our own Gatwick Greenspace Partnership moth trap (I saw a buff tip moth in there this morning), so we will be able to start putting this out on warm evenings From July onwards and we will let you know about some of the more interesting species that we find in next month’s e-news…If you have any interesting sightings of your own, please let us know.