Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto), 23 April 2019. Photo Ken Dobson.

April 2019 was a mostly cool month with long spells of chilling winds from easterly or northerly points. However, the Easter weekend (20th-22nd) was hot and sunny, with national  records for both Easter Sunday and Easter Monday being broken in Scotland, England and Wales. Edinburgh also recorded its highest temperature of the month, 22°C, on 20th and the following two days were very similar, but the easterly breeze stopped the mercury rising to the record-breaking levels of elsewhere. The following day (23rd), ‘normal service’ was suddenly resumed, with the temperature dropping a full 10°C and it was back to chilly easterlies.  Figures for rainfall and sunshine were not available at the time of publication. Four new species (one ichneumon and three flies) were added to the Garden’s wildlife list, whose total thereby rose from 1,081 to 1,085.

Birds: Forty-two bird species were recorded at RBGE during April, four fewer than in March but still a high total.  The most notable sightings were a Raven on 9th (the first since 2017), Buzzards on both 18th and 30th and a Canada Goose on 18th. There was a pair of Collared Doves in the vicinity if the Pond (from 18th). Singing Chiffchaffs were present in several areas of the Garden all month. There were only two records of Kingfisher (6th and 26th), and single records each of  Grey Wagtail (19th) and Pied Wagtail (26th). Nuthatches and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were reported on 18 and 14 dates respectively throughout the month, while Grey Heron visited on at least seven occasions. In contrast to the winter months, there were no sightings at all of either Goosander or Mistle Thrush. The complete list of 42 species recorded during April 2019 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, Grey Wagtail, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Kingfisher, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Nuthatch, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Raven, Robin, Siskin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove, Tawny Owl, Tree Creeper, Wood Pigeon, Wren.

Mammals and amphibians: Common Frog was reported on 20th and Palmate Newts on four dates in the second half of the month from 18th.  

Female of the parasitic wasp species Ichneumon extensorius, 19 April 2019. New Garden record. Photo Ken Dobson.

Insects and other invertebrates: No less than eight butterfly species were recorded during April, with several species being recorded frequently. Speckled Woods were seen on ten dates (from 9th), with mating dances observed. There were nine sightings of Peacock between 5th and 22nd. Comma (5th, 9th, 10th, 18th, 19th), Green-veined White (19th, 23rd-26th) and Orange Tip (21st, 22nd, 24th, 26th, 28th) were each seen on five dates while there were four records of Small Tortoiseshell (5th, 18th, 23rd and 24th).  Small White was recorded only twice (19th and 24th) and Red Admiral once (20th). Daytime moth records comprised a Blastobasis species (probably B. adustella) on 18th and a Copper Underwing caterpillar on 28th. Bumblebee records  included near-daily sightings of Tree Bumblebee, Buff-tailed Bumblebee, Large Red-tailed Bumble-bee and Common Carder Bee, as well as fewer reports of Early Bumblebee (18th and 19th), Garden Bumblebee (25th and 30th) and White-tailed Bumblebee (20th). Early Mining Bee was seen on 18th and Red Mason Bee on 23rd. Common Wasps were seen on 14 dates and Black Ant six times. A female Ichneumon extensorius photographed on 19th was the first Garden record of this parasitic wasp. Six species of hoverflies were seen during the month. They included multiple sightings of Banded Hoverflies, three of Common Drone-fly, two of Tapered Drone-fly and single records of Furry Drone-fly (19th), Spring Hoverfly (23rd) and The Footballer (a.k.a. Striped Hoverfly: also on 23rd). Curiously, however, Marmalade Hoverfly was not recorded. Three new fly species were added to the Garden’s list: the muscid Phaonia cf. subventa on 5th,the greenbottle mimic Eudasyphora cyanella on 19th and the crane-fly Tipula vittata on 28th. Greater Bee-flies were seen on four occasions (5th, 10th, 18th, 19th) and Lesser Variable Bibio on three dates between 9th and 19th. Bug records included Gorse Shield-bug (five dates), Birch Catkin Bug (25th) and 2019’s first sightings of both Birch Shield-bug (17th) and Hawthorn Shield-bug (19th). As in March, Seven-spot and Pine Ladybirds were each seen on several occasions throughout the month, while both Cream-spot Ladybird and Eyed Ladybird were spotted, by different observers, on 19th. Spotted Wolf-spiders continued to be present in the Rock Garden, on dead leaves on top of other plants.  Finally, last month’s unidentified snail remained firmly stuck to the wall of the Botanic Cottage until at least 10th, while a Garden Snail was photographed on 18th.

Crane-fly species, Tipula vittata, ovipositing, 28 April 2019. New Garden record. Photo Ken Dobson.