First of all I need to apologise for the lateness of this report! The May monthly report will follow in the next few days.
Birds — Thirty-seven species of bird were recorded during April 2014, the same total as last month. Highlights included a Buzzard, a Canada Goose and a Pheasant, all on 9th. Siskin were recorded almost every day, as has been the case since the beginning of the year; by the end of April Siskin had been recorded on 68 days (out of a possible maximum 82), which is six more days than they were recorded in the whole of 2013, which was itself a record year. Spring migrants began to arrive, with a record 5 singing Chiffchaffs on several days and a Willow Warbler on 14th. As in the last several years the Chiffchaffs remained but the Willow Warbler quickly moved on. The full list of bird species recorded during April was Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Dunnock, Feral Pigeon, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Pheasant, Robin, Siskin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove, Tawny Owl, Tree Creeper, Willow Warbler, Wood Pigeon, Wren.
Insects – The only butterfly seen was an Orange Tip on 29th. Bees began to be more evident with the first Red-tailed Bumblebee being seen on 1st. Solitary bees began to emerge, with two species recorded. Only three hoverfly species were recorded, two banded hoverflies and Platycheirus manicatus . Greater Bee-fly Bombylius major was seen hovering in front of flowers in the Rock Garden on four occasions between 10th and 17th. Other flies included Tephritis conura, a picture-winged fly, which was a new garden record (3rd). The leafhopper Empoasca vitis remained active until 10th, after which date it mysteriously disappeared from the yew trees it had been frequenting. Common Flower Bug Anthocoris nemorum was seen from 3rd and Hawthorn Shield Bug Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale from 10th. The Orange Ladybirds continued to hibernate on a tree near the John Hope Gateway until 17th or possibly later but they had disappeared by the beginning of May. while Pine Ladybird was recorded three times (6th, 15th and 16th), on either beech or rhododendron.
Other – A wolf spider Pardosa amentata was seen on a leaf in the Chilean Terrace (14th). Grubbing activities of badgers continued to be noticeable on the lawns.