03 June, 2014

A mystery sound in the woods


Strolling through beech woods along the North Downs Way yesterday morning, I couldn't help but feel a little wistful for the sea of bluebells that carpeted the ground just a few weeks ago- now completely replaced with bare ground, bracken and leafing trees. The bluebell spectacle is by far my favourite event on the nature calender, but it's always surprising how quickly they come and go.

Out on the chalk slopes it was a different story, with Common Spotted Orchid, Chalky MilkwortRock-rose, Germander Speedwell and all manner of wild herbs adding an array of colour to the downs. With the plants came the top-quality moths, including a few which have managed to evade me in the past. The nationally scarce Stephensia brunnichella was abundant around clumps of Basil, as was Mompha miscella around its foodplant, Rock-rose. It's a miracle I even managed to get a shot of the Mompha- its tendency to scurry through the long grass made it an absolute nightmare to photograph; not helped by the fact that the subject itself was just a few millimetres long!

Stephensia brunnichella

Mompha miscella

With things on the invertebrate front going better than expected, I decided to try my luck at finding Britain's smallest 'longhorn', Cauchas fibulella around Germander Speedwell, its foodplant...

Well, what do you know- I found it... Cauchas fibulella.

Pancalia leuwenhoekella- one of the commoner day-flying moths on chalk downland.

I've often stumbled across the empty shells of Roman Snail whilst out on the downs, but until today I'd never seen one with an actual snail inside. These gigantic molluscs stick out like a sore thumb to predators; it's no wonder they're so rare nowadays..

Roman Snail with quite a big phone.

On the way back, a wrong turn took me off the beaten track and along a path leading through a long line of fascinating ancient Yews, the only sign of any life within them being the odd wisp of song from a territorial Firecrest. By the time I'd finally made it back to the car, another bird call had started up in the canopy. I never saw the bird itself, but its call has left me in absolute confusion- I can't remember hearing anything quite like it before...



I'm sure I'll be kicking myself when I finally work it out, but in the meantime feel free to put me out of my misery...

4 comments:

Ali said...

Semi-collared Flycatcher ;)

Bill said...

I think you've nailed it! ;-)

unclefish said...

It's just one of the many calls of the Chaffinch

Bill said...

Many thanks- I suspected it might be a finch of some kind.