Tag Archives: wildlife

Some sightings from this year

Here’s a bumper crop of interesting sightings from the Rowley Hills over the summer and autumn this year!

Andrew Cook photographed this Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) on 20 June while he was doing a butterfly survey.

This Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) was discovered on Portway Hill by Andrew Cook on 24 June. It’s the first record of this orchid at this site, and only the 10th record in the whole of Birmingham and the Black Country. A fantastic record! Photograph by Mike Poulton.

On the same day, this Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) was also photographed by Andrew Cook. One or two Bee Orchids usually appear somewhere on Portway Hill every year, but they are unpredictable!

A Buff-tip moth (Phalera bucephala) caterpillar photographed on 12 August by Mike Poulton.

On 2 September, 8 hibernating Herald Moths (Scoliopteryx libatrix) were found and photographed by Mike Poulton in an outbuilding in the Portway Hill area. This is another new record for the site.

On 10 September a local dog walker reported to the Wildlife Trust volunteers working on the hillside that he’d just seen a huge Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) caterpillar walking across the path in front of him. We didn’t manage to find and photograph it, but here is a photo taken by Mike Poulton of the moth that the caterpillar would metamorphose into!

This Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera) was photographed on Portway Hill by Mike Poulton on 13 September.


Some recent sightings

Here are a few photos of some recent sightings on the Rowley Hills – a superb male Sparrowhawk photographed by Andrew Cook on his garden fence, a Ring Ouzel on a migratory stop-off en route to his breeding grounds also photographed by Andrew (from his house!!); and a Tawny Mining Bee and newly emerged male Orange Tip butterfly, both photographed by Mike Poulton.

Some recent sightings

On a recent walk from Warrens Hall Nature Reserve, up across Dudley Golf Course, and onto the Portway Hill site, Mike Poulton, Matt Hadlington and Tom Hartland-Smith had several interesting sightings. A regular dog walker stopped to tell them that at about 7pm on a previous evening, as he was returning from a walk, up on his neighbour’s roof was an Eagle Owl! Matt said that there had also been a recent Eagle Owl sighting at nearby Sheepwash Lane in Oldbury – it’s likely that these sightings were of the same individual, possibly an escaped pet or falconry bird. And if that wasn’t enough, on the way back to his car, Tom watched a Red Kite fly across. However the group’s first two sightings were of a tiny Common Toad, and a Pygmy Shrew. The toad was very much alive; the shrew was sadly deceased, but this is not unusual for these incredibly tiny mammals as the following information from Mike explains.

Pygmy Shrews are found throughout the UK; their habitat is woods and hedgerows and they can be seen all year round. They are our smallest mammal, up to 55mm from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. The tail can be up to 45mm long, around three quarters the length of the body (unlike the larger Common Shrew, whose tail is only half the length of it’s body). The average weight is about 4 grams, the same as a one penny coin. 

Shrews superficially resemble mice but with a longer, pointed snout, and even when fully grown are only around a quarter of the size of a House Mouse. The thick fur is brown on top and greyish-white below, and grows thicker in the autumn to help maintain body heat during the winter months.

Pygmy Shrews needs to consume food every two hours or so in order to maintain their body temperature. Their diet consists of spiders, beetles, woodlice, slugs and other small invertebrates. Active day and night searching for their next meal, the Pygmy Shrew literally lives its life in the fast lane. This unmarked specimen could have died of starvation because it hadn’t eaten for a few hours! 

The breeding season runs from April through to August, and female Pygmy Shrews produce between two and eight young per litter, in an underground nest. The gestation period is a little over three weeks, and a female can produce up to five litters in one year. The life span of this tiny mammal is approximately 15 months.

Wildlife recording during lockdown

Although we’ve all been greatly limited recently in our day-to-day activities and you may not have been able to travel to the places you usually go to enjoy the natural world, nature is all around us. Those of us lucky enough to have gardens might find that they are spending a lot more time in them that they used to, and getting to know the local wildlife as a result. Recording what you see can be a great way to engage with the natural world and enjoy all the benefits that this brings – particularly important in these uncertain times. Even if you don’t have a garden, you may be able to see species just from your window or during your daily exercise.

EcoRecord are always interested in receiving any records of wildlife spotted in Birmingham and the Black Country. It doesn’t have to be anything unusual or out of the ordinary, records of the everyday wildlife you see in your garden and local area are just as valuable as records of rarer species. EcoRecord have ready-made recording forms with full instructions on their website at http://www.ecorecord.org.uk/index.php?q=wildlife/forms, so why not start recording wildlife today?

Peacock (Inachis io) (image © Mike Poulton)