July has brought with it a traditional English summer, complete with hot sunny days and the odd thundery shower. Once again it has been a very busy month work-wise, trying to encourage our crops and discourage our weeds!
Most excitingly in mid-July a turtle dove paid us a visit for a few days; its purring call was heard in the small wood at the top of the field on several occasions. This now rare migrant dove was once a common sound of summer. Similarly, the grey partridge that was heard and spotted on the pasture is now a very rare bird and we are excited that it turned up on the farm.
The barn owl has been spotted occasionally but it is still unclear whether it has nested on the farm or indeed whether a pair has taken up residence. The swallows, housemartins and swifts are still in evidence, while the odd sparrowhawk are the only birds of prey spotted this month, although another red kite was an unconfirmed distant sighting too.
It has been a much better summer for our butterflies this year and they can now be seen in abundance. As well as the common species that can be seen flapping around the field on most days like ringlets, meadow browns and the small tortoiseshells, Stuart has spotted a few other species including large skippers, small skippers, essex skippers, and even small heaths. I also spotted a speckled wood and a rather tatty but determined painted lady near the polytunnels.
Meanwhile, another unusual moth was found hiding amongst the french bean foliage in one of the polytunnels. Can anyone identify it?
There has also been the occasional amphibious polytunnel lurker with a few common frogs as well as a common toad.