May began as April ended – chilly for the time of year. There were one or two warmer spells, and the Botanics weather watchers will tell you that temperatures were about average for the month, but the month again relapsed into chilly mode. Whatever the met folk say, the wildlife seemed to know it was cool and insect diversity seemed notably low. The mass emergences of St Mark’s Flies that have been a feature of the Botanics for a few years did not take place, and very few butterflies were seen. Two species were added to the Garden’s list during the month and it is now 746.
Birds As in April, 36 bird species were recorded in the Garden during May. A Goosander was reported on the Pond (6th) and a Sedge Warbler was heard singing there on the morning of 8th but had disappeared by lunchtime — clearly a passage migrant making a quick ‘pit stop’. The first Swifts were seen over the Garden on 12th and a Collared Dove was calling on 28th. The full list of species recorded was: Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Dunnock, Feral Pigeon, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Robin, Sedge Warbler, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove, Tree Creeper, Wood Pigeon, Wren.
Insects and other invertebrates: Once again there were rather few records of these because of persistent chilly weather. In contrast to April’s diversity, the only butterfly record was of an Orange Tip on 11th. An Angle Shades moth chrysalis was found and exhibited in the Shop from 6th but sadly it ‘disappeared’ before the moth could hatch out. Nematopogon schwarziellus, seen and photographed in the copse on 27th, was a very striking micro-moth with extremely long antennae; it was one of the two new Garden records of the month. The mixture of bumblebee species was similar to April with no additional species were seen. Common Wasp was recorded on three dates. Only four hoverfly species were seen, the most notable being the very slender shade-loving Baccha elongata on 12th. Forest (Red-legged) Shield Bug was seen once and two other bug species were recorded. No ladybirds were seen but the leaf beetles Phratora laticollis and P. vitellinae continued to feed voraciously on poplar leaves. The galls of two gall-mites were seen, Eriophyes tiliae on lime and Eriophyes pyri on rowan, the latter being the second new Garden record.